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Bacteria levels prompt swimming alert at NC beach

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CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. — A swimming alert was issued Thursday for a public beach access area at Carolina Beach due to water quality concerns.

Water tests taken Wednesday from the public beach access at Hamlet Avenue in Carolina Beach showed levels of bacteria that exceed the state and Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational water quality swimming standards, WWAY reports.

Samples show results of 324 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water, which surpasses the state and federal single-sample standard of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 1 high usage sites, according to officials. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use.

Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. Enterococci do not cause illness but may indicate the presence of other disease-causing organisms.

People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standards have an increased risk of developing a gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.

State officials will test the site again. If new samples show elevated bacteria counts, state officials will post a swimming advisory sign and issue a swimming advisory.