Texas

These spring break beach destinations in Texas are reading high for fecal bacteria

Galveston Island State Park, which is about 10 miles away from the closest beach that reads high for fecal bacteria in the water, at sunset.
Galveston Island State Park, which is about 10 miles away from the closest beach that reads high for fecal bacteria in the water, at sunset. Wikimedia Commons

Concepts that don’t go well together:

Oil and water. Peanut butter and pickles. Or, a relaxing beach outing and high fecal bacteria readings.

Yuck.

But that’s exactly what some Texas Gulf Coast beach destinations are plagued with as spring break approaches, according to a website called Texas Beach Watch.

There are reportedly less than 2,000 cases per year of listeria in the United States, but it has the highest fatality and hospitalization rates among food-borne illnesses.

Talk about smelly timing.

Texas Beach Watch is an arm of the Texas General Land Office that lets visitors know the water quality at recreational beaches. It currently lists 13 locations along the Lone Star State portion of the Gulf Coast that exceed acceptable EPA standards for Enterococcus bacteria levels in the water.

Enterococcus bacteria feed on fecal bacteria, and their presence is measured as an indicator of the amount of fecal bacteria present in a certain section of ocean water, according to MIT. They are measured according to EPA standards by colony forming units (CFUs) per 100ml of seawater.

Any beach with greater than 104cfu per 100ml is considered highly polluted. According to the EPA, swimming in polluted water can lead to nausea, vomiting, stomachaches, diarrhea, headache or fever.

Locations considered highly polluted as of Thursday afternoon included (from southwest to northeast):

  • Two beaches along the southern portion of Corpus Christi Bay
  • Another along Mustang Island
  • One jetty park on Matagorda Peninsula
  • Seven beach locations close to the town of Freeport
  • The 57th Street beach on Galveston Island
  • Two more beaches along the Bolivar Peninsula

There are reportedly less than 2,000 cases per year of listeria in the United States, but it has the highest fatality and hospitalization rates among food-borne illnesses.

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