High Bacteria Count at Cove Park, Maui

May 25, 2018, 6:50 AM HST · Updated May 25, 6:50 AM
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Cove Beach. File photos by Wendy Osher.

A high bacteria count has been recorded at Cove Park in South Maui. The state Department of Health Clean Water Branch recorded an elevated level of enterococci at the location of 2005 per 100 mL, exceeding the threshold of 130 enterococci per 100 mL.

The advisory indicates that potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or parasites may be present in the water. The department advises that swimming at beaches with pollution in the water may make you ill.

Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely populations to develop illnesses or infections after coming into contact with polluted water, usually while swimming. The advisory states that fortunately, while swimming-related illnesses can be unpleasant, they are usually not very serious – they require little or no treatment or get better quickly upon treatment, and they have no long-term health effects.

The most common illness associated with swimming in water polluted by fecal pathogens is gastroenteritis. It occurs in a variety of forms that can have one or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses associated with swimming include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. In highly polluted water, swimmers may occasionally be exposed to more serious diseases.

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The department advises that not all illnesses from a day at the beach are from swimming. Food poisoning from improperly refrigerated picnic lunches may also have some of the same symptoms as swimming-related illnesses, including stomachache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. At any given time and place, we are constantly exposed to a variety of microorganisms that have the potential of making us ill.

An advisory has been posted and will remain in effect until water sample results no longer exceed threshold levels.

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