It blew up on Facebook. An Atlanta Meteorologist put up several posts warning people about high levels of bacteria at Gulf Coast beaches from Louisiana to Florida.

WSB-TV’s Burns said: “When you head down there you could see these toxic levels of fecal bacteria continuing and very dangerous to swim in these waters. They call this the kind of flesh-eating bacteria.”

It had some Pensacola beachgoers nervous, including one woman on vacation from Arkansas.

“It concerned me,” said Jennifer Hosley of Greenwood, Arkansas.

“But after I looked into it and did some more education on it, I felt a lot more safe about it. Nobody wants to come down here on vacation and get hurt by any means.”

Good thing she did her homework. It wasn’t true. But those words “flesh eating” spread like wildfire on social media and may have kept some people from heading to Northwest Florida beaches for the holiday weekend.

“A few family and friends called and said Facebook messages and posts say you can swim – that you’ll pretty much die, there’s a flesh eating virus in the water,” said Candus Burbridge who swam and played in the sand with her family without care Thursday. “But we hoped for the best, and everybody’s out playing and not getting ate by any flesh eating diseases so we took the risk and we’re playing and it looks good. We’re glad he was wrong.”

The Florida Department of Health has not closed any beaches because of flesh eating bacteria, only advised against swimming in several areas because of fecal bacteria.

That includes six beaches in Okaloosa County and a couple in Walton County. There are no advisories for flesh-eating bacteria anywhere, despite what that Atlanta weatherman said.

“You gotta check it before you say it,” said Jeordie Pereira of Atlanta who was at Pensacola Beach Thursday. “Because we could all get scared and nobody would really come to the beach.”

Burns later posted an apology sorts on Facebook saying, “I gave you some wrong information.”

The CW-55 spoke with some hotel operators. They say they got a number of phone calls from the Atlanta area, but no cancellations. Atlanta is one of the major market areas that send tourists to Northwest Florida.

Related Posts