Health Department closes popular Charlotte County Beach over holiday

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Port Charlotte, FL A “no swim” advisory has been issued for the Port Charlotte Beach Complex located at 4500 Harbor Boulevard. The Florida Department of Health in Charlotte County officials received testing results from beach water samples taken on July 3 that show an elevated level of enterococci (enteric) bacteria.

 Local health officials emphasize that people can still visit and enjoy the beach. However, residents and visitors are urged not to wade or swim in the water or engage in water recreation until the advisory is lifted. Shellfish collected in the immediate area of the Port Charlotte Beach Complex should not be consumed; however, it is safe to fish and consume fin-fish from these waters.

 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) water quality standards are very protective of human health. The “no-swim” advisories are based on elevated levels of indicator bacteria, some of which are naturally present in the environment. These bacteria inhabit the intestines of warm-blooded humans and animals. If high concentrations of enteric bacteria are ingested or enter through an open cut or sore, they may cause human disease or infection. The most common symptoms include rashes, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Enteric bacteria can come from a variety of sources including stormwater runoff, pet waste, and wildlife and human sewage. Enteric bacteria such as fecal coliform and enterococci normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals, and may cause human disease, infections or rashes. The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from storm water runoff, pets, wildlife and human sewage. The bacteria have also been associated with large flocks of seabirds roosting at the beach complex in the past.

Signs will be posted at the beach, advising people not to swim in the water and will remain in place until follow-up water testing results meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recreational water safety standards. The Department of Health plans to conduct follow-up water sampling on July 8 with results expected on July 9.

The annual Freedom Swim will not be effected by the beach closure.