If You’re Headed to a Texas Beach, Watch Out for Disease-Causing Bacteria
Not to ruin the fun, but there are some things we need to know before heading to a Texas beach this summer. Galveston, for one, is worried about bacteria, and here's why we should be too.
The Galveston Health District is concerned about enterococcus, which they say is a bacterium that's common in rainwater runoff and comes from the gut of mammals. To put it bluntly, cows and pets poop, and then heavy rains wash the waste off the land and into rivers and streams, and eventually it gets into larger bodies of water like the Gulf of Mexico. And then it rubs up against us in our white bathing suits while we're swimming along the coast, and we wonder why the sexy suits turn greenish brown. Gross!
The health officials in Galveston are taking samples regularly along 52 beach sites in Galveston County during peak beach season, and if the bacteria levels get too high, they close the beaches that are affected. Infections are rare, they tell us. So we're not to worry.
If you are worried, Texas Beach Watch is devoted to posting bacteria levels for our favorite Texas beaches, and keeping us all up to date on which ones to avoid. They cover dozens of beaches all along the Gulf Coast, from south of Beaumont, almost to Mexico, and they use icons that look like traffic lights, so we know if a beach on a certain day is green, yellow, or red. If it's green, then chances are slim that our white bathing suits will turn brown. If it's red, the beach is likely closed til the bacteria dissipates.
The conditions that can come from bacteria in rivers, lakes, oceans, pools, and swimming holes could surely make summer a little less fun. The symptoms for various swimming-related diseases range from a little itching, to more serious cases of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and other more invasive things that could even land us in the hospital.
Anyone else want to live in denial? That might be the most fun and carefree way to hit the beach, but the responsible thing would be to stay informed. Now go have a blast this summer!