KENAI, Alaska (AP) — Heightened, potentially dangerous amounts of bacteria have been detected at an Alaska beach, state environmental officials said.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation issued a warning Thursday about Kenai North Beach, The Anchorage Daily News reported Saturday.
Samples taken June 4 showed elevated levels of enterococci bacteria and fecal coliform, officials said.
The agency warned against swimming at the beach southwest of Anchorage until the advisory is lifted and encouraged beachgoers to rinse off with clean, fresh water if they are exposed to marine water.
Exposure can cause stomach aches, diarrhea and ear, eye and skin infections.
The most likely source of the enterococci bacteria is birds, but it can come from any warm-blooded animal, including humans and pets, officials said.
The samples taken at Kenai North Beach contained 139 units per 100 milliliters (3.4 ounces) of enterococci bacteria, almost four times higher than what is considered safe for direct contact, officials said.
The safe threshold for fish and shellfish harvesting for raw consumption is no more than 14 units per milliliter (0.03 ounces.)
Seafood harvested from the area should be rinsed with clean water and cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 Celsius), officials said.
Bacteria levels were normal in water samples taken from nearby South Kenai Beach, Warren Ames Bridge and Kenai River Gull Rookeries 1 and 2, officials said.
The environmental conservation agency tests the water at those locations weekly from May through September, officials said.