Bacteria levels in beach water are monitored at 46 public beaches on the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean during the swimming season (May-September).
Bacteria in the enterococcus group are an indication of levels of disease-causing organisms in salt water. High bacteria levels indicate an increased risk of gastro-intestinal illness as well as ear and eye infections in swimmers. Young children and the elderly, and swimmers that submerge their heads while swimming in waters with elevated bacteria levels, are at an even greater risk of contracting an illness.
Environmental health personnel from local health departments regularly sample water for enterococcus group bacteria at public beaches between May and September. If bacteria levels exceed the state water quality standard of 104 colony forming units/100mL of water, a swimming advisory sign is posted at that beach. Click on the link to the right to see current swimming advisories.
You can help to protect your health while swimming by taking these simple steps: