BARNEGAT LIGHT — Swimming is prohibited at an Ocean County beach thanks to state Department of Environmental Protection tests showing high levels of bacteria.

Samples taken at the 25th Street Beach on Barnegat Bay, also known as the Barnegat Light Bay Beach, showed a high level of Enterococci bacteria for two tests in a row, and a ban was put into place.

The DEP's decision to close a beach is typically made after two consecutive days of results that exceed the state standard of 104 colonies per 100 milliliters per sample. Beaches under advisory mean they have tested positive for high levels of bacteria for one day, and results are pending for the following day.

The beach most recently had been closed on July 24. It is the fifth time this summer the beach has tested high.

Levels of Enterococci bacteria at the 193 beaches monitored by the DEP's Cooperative Coastal Monitoring Program tend to spike in some locations because of a buildup of waste from geese, seagulls, and other animals following heavy rains.

Heavy rains from Wednesday could keep the bacteria level high at the beach Thursday and beyond.

In most cases, people may still be allowed on the sand of a closed beach even though water access is restricted. Barnegat Light, Lakehurst, and the Ocean County Health Department gave no indication on their respective websites about the status of the beach.

An exceedance of the state standard could cause gastrointestinal and respiratory issues for swimmers.

Swimming in or contact with the water, according to the DEP, can result in any one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Runny nose/sneezing
  • Skin rash and itching
  • Ear and eye irritation
  • Fever and chills

Most of the time, these symptoms are minor, the DEP said. But they can occasionally be more serious, especially in children and the elderly.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ.

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