It used to be that a bad day at the beach consisted of little more than a nasty sunburn or that uncomfortable chafing of particles that made their way into the nether regions of your swimwear. Now, two of North America's most popular shore destinations might be more hazardous to your health than previously thought.
An advisory issued Friday, October 5th, by Hawaiian health officials revealed that accumulating bacteria in the waters of some of the state's most popular beach destinations could cause illnesses among those who opt for a swim. More specifically, the Hawaii State Department of Health indicated a higher than normal presence of enterococci, a strong indicator of contamination and especially microorganisms that could make visitors sick.
In particular, samples taken so far reported 945 parts per 100 milliliters of enterococci at Waikiki's Kuhio Beach, 164 parts per 100 milliliters at the Diamond Head strip by Ala Moana Beach Park, and 150 parts per 100 milliliters at Lanikai Beach Shoreline all on the island of Oahu.
Tourists swimming in those areas have been warned that exposure to that micro bacteria, including fecal pathogens, could contract gastroenteritis and wind up suffering from symptoms ranging from diarrhea, stomachaches and vomiting, to nausea, fever or headaches. Additional exposure could also lead to infections of the eyes, ears, nose, and throat.
Authorities also detected high levels of the micro bacteria higher than 200 parts per 100 milliliters on other Hawaiian islands. Advisories have been issued for Kepuhi Beach on Kauai and Cove Park on Maui after finding the toxin that besides bacteria, could also contain viruses or parasites.
While tourists in good health who get sick are more likely to suffer discomfort after a few days and recover without any medical treatment, children, seniors, and others with compromised immune systems are especially susceptible to illnesses while swimming offshore from the targeted beaches.
According to the Department of Health Clean Water Branch, which is responsible for monitoring the beaches and creating awareness of potential hazards as part of its beach program, the signs that have been posted will not be removed until further samples reveal that levels are down to the accepted level of 130 enterococci per 100 milliliters.