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County issues no-swim advisory for Sarasota beaches

Health officials believe elevated bacteria levels near Longboat Key, Siesta Key and Casey Key can be attributed to red tide.

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  • | 4:42 p.m. September 29, 2016
Siesta Beach is one of five Sarasota beaches for which the county has issues a no-swim advisory.
Siesta Beach is one of five Sarasota beaches for which the county has issues a no-swim advisory.
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The county announced a no-swim advisory for five beaches on Sarasota’s barrier islands today after water quality tests showed higher-than-acceptable levels of bacteria.

Health officials issued the warnings for Longboat Key beach, Siesta Beach, Turtle Beach, Nokomis Beach and North Jetty beach. Swimming and other water recreation is not recommended during the advisory, though the beaches will remain open.

The elevated bacteria levels can likely be attributed to the red tide algae bloom off the coast, Sarasota County and Longboat Key officials said in a release today. The red tide creates wrack lines containing dead fish and other marine organisms on the shore, which can increase the bacteria levels.

Because of the bloom, the county has also posted red tide advisory signs at all Sarasota beaches.

Tom Higginbotham, the environmental administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota County, said the heightened bacteria levels create a health risk for the public.

“People — especially those who are very young, elderly or who have a weak immune system — who swallow water while swimming can get stomach or intestinal illnesses,” Higginbotham said in the release. “If water comes in contact with a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes.”

Officials also cautioned against eating shellfish caught in the immediate area of any of those beaches.

The advisory will remain in place until water quality tests meet established standards. The next test results should be available Friday. 


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