Collier County beach advisories ending but debris remains hazardous from Ian
Collier County beaches are making a comeback and advisories are being removed but residents still need to be cautious about debris.
Water sample tests by the state Department of Health on Oct. 17 found six beaches improved this week for water quality compared to poor test results last week, according to Collier Commissioner Penny Taylor’s newsletter to residents.
The water quality tests are done for enterococci bacteria, a saltwater quality indicator.
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The six beaches with good results are Tigertail, Napes Pier, Doctor’s Pass, Park Shore, Clam Pass and Vanderbilt, she said.
Once a beach has good test results, advisories posted by the health department are removed, according to health department spokeswoman Kristine Hollingsworth.
If a beach has good water quality results one week, that can change the following week, and an advisory sign would go back up, she said.
The health department's precautionary swim advisory issued Oct. 6 remains in effect for Collier and does not have specific signs because it is a widespread issue, Hollingsworth said.
“Additionally (the health department) does not test for physical debris in the water,” she said.
Test results from Oct. 17 at other beaches show good water quality at Barefoot Beach, Hideaway Beach, Lowdermilk Park, Seagate, and South Marco, according to the health department.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass had moderate levels of bacteria while Residents’ Beach on Marco Island had poor test results for water quality.
The state health department samples 12 beaches weekly for bacteria which is especially critical for water quality after Hurricane Ian’s extensive storm surge in coastal areas. The surge can carry gasoline, sewage and other contaminants.
“Enterococci bacteria inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals,” Hollingsworth said. “The presence of enteric bacteria is an indication of the presence of fecal material in the water.”
Florida sees uptick in potential fatal bacteria
In addition, Florida has seen a dramatic uptick in vibrio vulnificus, a potentially fatal bacteria that recently took the life of Michigan man, James Hewitt, at an undisclosed location in Naples when he fell in the water and scratched his leg.
He applied anti-bacteria ointment but became ill and was hospitalized and died, according to FOX 17 in western Michigan. Family members could not be reached for comment.
Take a look:Beach Water quality map in your area
Cape Coral resident Terry Brennen, 79, is recovering from infection from vibrio vulnificus in Cape Coral Hospital after cleaning muck from his driveway after Ian. He had nicks to his legs from yard debris and wound up hospitalized three days later.
State data shows 64 cases of vibrio vulnificus statewide since the beginning of the year, with 28 cases in Lee and three in Collier.
Vibrio vulnificus is a naturally occurring bacteria found in warm, salty water.
“It is important for the public to always be aware of the potential risks when exposing open wounds, cuts, or scratches on the skin to warm brackish or salt water,” Hollingsworth said. “Flooding in coastal areas can increase bacteria levels.”
Many people with vibrio vulnificus infection require intensive care or limb amputation. About one in five people with this type of infection die within a day or two of becoming ill.