No swimming: Toxic bacteria afflicts Mississippi coast
MANDEVILLE, Miss. — An outbreak of toxic bacteria is ruining some beach plans in Mississippi, where authorities are warning people not to swim or eat seafood from polluted coastal waters.
First, the flies…now, the algae. Just another result of the ongoing, historic flooding of the Mississippi River into the Bonnet Carre Spillway into Lake Pontchartrain.
Exceptionally warm temperatures coupled with historic amounts of nutrient-rich water that contains excess fertilizer and pesticides from the Mississippi River into Lake Pontchartrain has triggered the worst algae bloom some residents have ever seen.
And there is the potential the algae bloom will get worse over the next several weeks.
The City of Mandeville says do NOT swim or fish in the water along the Northshore Lakefront or anywhere that looks like this greenish-blue color.
The blue-green algae is made up of cyanobacteria, which can produce a variety of toxins. It can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the Louisiana Department of Health. High exposures can also affect the liver and nervous systems.
In addition, beach closures now extend into the Mississippi Gulf Coast as algae blooms continue to worsen there as well. People and pets are encouraged to not enter the water until further notice.
Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says to not eat any fish from the closed waters as well.
NOTE: Beach sand is safe to be in, but all pets and people are encouraged to stay out of the water!
Five beaches in Harrison County are now closed:
– Pass Christian West Beach
– Pass Christian Central Beach
– Pass Christian East Beach
– Long Beach Beach
– Gulfport Central Beach
Four beaches closed in Hancock County are:
– Lakeshore Beach
– Buccaneer State Park Beach
– Waveland Beach
– Bay St. Louis Beach
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality released a list of closed beaches to news outlets. Residents shouldn’t even allow their pets to come in contact with water that has a greenish-blue hue.
The toxic cyanobacterium can cause rashes, diarrhea and vomiting.
Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Joe Spraggins blames fresh water entering the Mississippi sound. A New Orleans spillway has been open for a historically long time to relieve pressure on levees from the flooded Mississippi River. The fresh water influx is creating a dead zone without oxygen where marine life can’t survive.