The Oregon Health Authority issued public health advisories Wednesday because of higher-than-normal levels of bacteria in ocean waters at Sunset Bay Beach, Mill Beach and Harris Beach. Sunset Bay Beach is in Coos County and Mill and Harris beaches are in Curry County.
Increased pathogen and fecal bacteria levels in ocean waters can come from both shore and inland sources, such as storm water runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems, and even animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife.
Water samples indicate higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria, which can result in diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses.
The Health Authority advisory said direct contact with the surf or water running into the surf in these areas should be avoided until the advisories are lifted, especially for children and the elderly, who may be more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.
Health officials say there is no restriction on other recreational activities on the beaches because they pose no health risk even during an advisory. Neighboring beaches are not affected by the advisory.