UPDATE: The county has lifted the no-swim advisory in place at Turtle Beach and three other area beaches. Visitors are now safe to enter the water, officials announced today.
Previously: County officials issued a no-swim advisory Thursday for Turtle Beach and three other area beaches.
The advisory was issued after tests showed levels of enterococcus bacteria in the water outside acceptable limits, according to a release. The beaches remain open, but officials recommend against entering the water while the advisory is in place.
"When these bacteria are found at high levels in recreational waters, there is a risk that some people may become ill," Tom Higginbotham, environmental administrator for the Florida Department of Health in Sarasota, said in the release. "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. If water comes in contact with a cut or sore, people can get infections or rashes."
Officials believe natural sources are responsible for the heightened bacteria levels. Enterococcus bacteria can come from animal waste, wildlife, stormwater runoff and human sewage. There have been no reported sewage spills within a mile of the beaches in the past month, the release stated.
The advisory will remain in place until tests show acceptable levels of enterococcus bacteria. Updated test results will be available Friday.
The no-swim advisory is also in place for Venice Beach, Venice Fishing Pier Beach and Manasota Key Beach. Testing at other county beaches, including Siesta Beach and Lido Key beaches, has shown acceptable bacteria levels.