8/15 UPDATE: The swimming advisory has been lifted for the entire Oceanfront. Test shows the last section, from 22nd Street to 37th Street, is safe, health officials say.
8/14 11:35 a.m. UPDATE: The Va. Beach Health Dept. said the swimming advisory has been lifted from 37th Street to 70th Street; it remains in effect from 22nd Street to 37th Street
VIRGINIA BEACH -- A swimming and wading advisory has been issued for the Oceanfront from 22nd Street to 70th Street.
Recent testing conducted by the Health Department showed that bacteria levels in the water exceeded the state water quality standards.
Recreational waters are monitored for bacteria using indicator organisms such as enterococcus, the indicator of choice in estuarine and marine waters.
“The coastal waters of Virginia are generally very clean, and we test them weekly from May through September,” said Heidi Kulberg, M.D., Director of the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health. “On the occasions when waters fail to meet the standards, we need to protect public health by letting residents and visitors know.”
Signs will be posted on the beach 22nd Street and 70th Street to alert the public of the swimming and wading advisory.
Virginia Beach has conducted these tests since the mid-1970s. Health officials will continue testing the site until the water quality meets the state water quality standards. When the sampling test results meet the standards, the signs will be removed.
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.
“We encourage the public to protect their health by complying with this advisory,” said Kulberg. “Typically an advisory of this nature is temporary and will be withdrawn once the bacteria levels have returned to safe levels.”
The results of this and all other sampling are located on the Virginia Department of Health Web site.
For additional information, contact the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health at (757) 518-2646.