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DHS news release

August 16, 2006


General questions:
Jim Sellers, DHS: 503-945-5738
Robert Smith, Oregon Parks and Recreation: 503-986-0665, cell 503-551-3528

Technical questions:
Jennifer Ketterman, DHS: 971-673-0431
Larry Caton, DEQ: 503-229-5491


Health advisory issued for water contact at Rockaway beach


A public health advisory was issued Wednesday due to higher-than-normal levels of bacteria in ocean waters at Rockaway beach in Tillamook County.


Water samples indicate higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria, which can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Direct contact with the water should be avoided until the advisory is lifted, especially for children and the elderly who may be more vulnerable to waterborne bacteria.


While this advisory is in effect at Rockaway beach, visitors should avoid wading in nearby creeks or in discolored water, and stay clear of water runoff flowing into the ocean. Even when no advisory is in effect, officials recommend avoiding swimming in the ocean within 48 hours after a rainstorm.


State officials advise that the status of water contact advisories at beaches is subject to change. For the most recent information on advisories, please visit the DHS Beach Monitoring Program Web site or call 877-290-6767.


Although state officials discourage water contact, they continue to encourage other recreational activities at Rockaway beach because they pose no health risk even during an advisory. Neighboring beaches are not affected by this advisory.


Since 2003, state officials have used a federal Environmental Protection Agency grant to monitor popular Oregon beaches and make timely reports to the public about elevated levels of fecal bacteria. Participating Oregon state agencies are the Oregon Department of Human Services, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. More detailed test results are available at the DHS Beach Monitoring Program Web site.