Public health officials warn people of high levels of bacteria in ocean waters at Harris State Park beach north of Brookings.

Public health officials warn people of high levels of bacteria in ocean waters at Harris State Park beach north of Brookings.

The Department of Human Services warning issued Wednesday said water samples indicate higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria, which can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses.

While this advisory is in effect at Harris State Park beach, visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.

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, the warning stated. Even if there is no advisory in effect, officials recommend not swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm.

State officials advise that the status of water contact advisories at beaches is subject to change. For the most recent information on advisories, visit www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/beaches/index.shtml or call 877-290-6767.