UPDATE: The Virginia Beach Department of Public Health has lifted ALL swimming advisories for the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
On Wednesday, the Public Health Department issued a swimming and wading advisory from 22nd Street to 70th Street after tests showed unacceptable levels of bacteria in the ocean.
On Thursday, the department lifted the advisory for most of that stretch, from 37th Street to 70th Street. The advisory remained for the section from 22nd Street to 37th Street.
Signs were posted on the beach 22nd Street and 70th Street to alert the public of the swimming and wading advisory.
Many people are asking how bacteria can be present in the area of one street but not in the next street. According to the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health, many of the streets are “buffer zones” for the actual area where the bacteria levels were high.
They are taking precaution by deeming the surrounding zones as no swimming zones as well.
If you come in contact with the the water in the dangerous zones, you could have eye & skin infections, respiratory problems, and gastrointestinal issues.
This is the largest advisory issued in recent history. The earliest it will be lifted will be Thursday morning after more bacteria level testing can be done.
The Health Department says waters are routinely tested for bacteria using indicator organisms such as Enterococcus, the indicator of choice in estuarine and marine waters.
Enterococci are a group of organisms used to determine the extent of the fecal contamination of recreational waters. While they do not cause illness, scientific studies indicate that their presence is closely correlated to the presence of other disease-causing organisms. People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standard have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness, as well as skin, eye and respiratory infections.
The water will be tested again until it meets State Water Quality Standards. At that time, another announcement will be made and the signs will be removed.