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A stormy season STOCK

A piece of driftwood tumbles in the surf at Sunset Bay State Park in 2015.

COOS COUNTY — The Oregon Health Authority issued a public health advisory for higher-than-normal levels of bacteria in ocean waters at Sunset Bay State Park Beach.

According to a press release, water samples indicate higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses.

People should avoid direct contact with the water in that area until the advisory is lifted. This applies especially to children and the elderly, who may be more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.

Increased pathogen and fecal bacteria levels in ocean waters can come from both shore and inland sources such as storm water runoff, sewer overflows, failing septic systems, and animal waste from livestock, pets and wildlife.

Visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks, pools of water on the beach, or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Even if there is no advisory in effect, officials recommend avoiding swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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