Health officials issue beach advisory for St. Simons, Jekyll

The Glynn County Health Department issued a beach advisory Tuesday for three public beaches on St. Simons Island and one on Jekyll Island, a measure taken in response to elevated levels of a bacteria in the water that is associated with human and animal fecal matter.

On St. Simons Island, the beach advisory covers Coast Guard Beach, Massengale Beach and the beach at Neptune Park in the village; the advisory applies to Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, according to a release from the Coastal Health District.

Glynn County Health Department officials advise residents to avoid wading or swimming in these waters until the advisories are lifted. Any fish caught offshore from these beaches should be carefully cleaned with fresh water and thoroughly cooked before eating.

The advisory was issued due to tests showing levels of the bacteria enterococcus are above standards of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, according to the health department. Enterococcus is found in humans and several species of warm-blooded mammals including dolphins, the health department said. It can typically enter local waters through animals, stormwater runoff or boating waste.

Health officials test local beach waters for the presence of enterococcus on a weekly basis, year-round. The advisory will be lifted when waters test at acceptable levels of the bacteria, which can potentially cause illness.

— Larry Hobbs

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