A few beaches on the Florida panhandle are under health advisories after testing higher-than-average for concentrations of fecal indicator bacteria, Florida Department of Health officials say.

Enterococci bacteria causes infections or rashes when it enters the human body it is not a flesh-eating bacteria.

For the vast majority of people, the risk of serious illness is minimal, FDH spokesman Ryan Mims said. Some may experience a minor inflammation of a cut, a mild sore throat or mild diarrhea after exposure to water from a body of water under advisory.

A normal presence of the bacteria is considered to be anything less than 35 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters of water, according to federal water quality standards. Water quality is considered poor when the levels of the bacteria exceed 70 units per 100 milliliters of water.

About 38 counties collect and test samples each week in order to monitor bacteria levels, and results can vary wildly from week to week according to department of health officials.

These advisories do not mean that the beaches are closed, Mims said. If the health department has issued an advisory, it is because enterococci bacteria have exceeded the acceptable level at the time of weekly sampling.

During testing, samples from seven Florida beaches showed elevated levels of the bacteria and were put under a health advisory.

In Okaloosa County, six beaches were put under health advisories:
  • Garniers Park
  • Rocky Bayou State Park
  • East Pass
  • Clement E. Taylor Park
  • Henderson Beach
  • Poquito Park
The water from the Okaloosa beaches will be tested again Tuesday.

In Walton County, Blue Mountain Beach is under a health advisory. It was put into place June 23 when the waters test readings registered over 800 units. The advisory was extended when the readings registered 200 units Thursday.

A health advisory was enacted June 23 for County Park (Miramar) Beach but was lifted Thursday afternoon after the water was tested again.