Bacteria levels prompt swimming alert at Carolina Beach

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A swimming alert was issued Thursday for a public beach access area in Carolina Beach due to water quality concerns.

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

According to officials, samples collected Wednesday showed test results of 324 enterococci per 100 milliliters of water, which exceeds the state and federal single-sample standard of 104 enterococci per 100 milliliters for Tier 1 high usage sites. Swimming areas are classified based on recreational use and are referred to as tiers.

Enterococci, the bacteria group used for testing, are found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals. While it does not cause illness, scientific studies indicate that enterococci 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 gastrointestinal illness or skin infections.

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

The N.C. Recreational Water Quality Program tests water quality at ocean and sound beaches in accordance with federal and state laws.

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