Bathers just can’t get a break in Vancouver this summer.
Vancouver Coastal Health has again closed three Vancouver beaches to swimming, due to unsafe levels of E. coli bacteria in the water.
Sunset Beach has been shuttered once again, joined for the first time this summer by English Bay and Jericho beaches.
E. coli is the same bacteria that can be found on vegetables or in beef. It is of particular concern for for vulnerable populations such as kids and seniors.
Exposure to contaminated water can lead to gastrointestinal illness, with symptoms like cramping, vomiting and diarrhea.
Vancouver Coastal Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Patricia Daly said it comes down to public safety.
“We do this when we believe that there’s a safety risk for public, they need to understand that with high levels of bacteria in the water, if they go in the water that they could get infections in the skin,” she said.
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Under Vancouver Coastal Health’s guidelines, beaches are closed to swimming when the E. coli count exceeds 200 per 100 mL of water.
Along with the new beaches, Trout Lake in East Vancouver and Snug Cove on Bowen Island also remain closed to swimmers.
Vancouver Coastal Health was forced to close two other beaches in Vancouver and three in West Vancouver earlier this summer due to E. coli concerns.
It says there are complex factors behind such bacterial blooms, but that a major contributor is from fecal matter — both because of the increased number of boats in the summer, and large numbers of birds in and over the water.
WATCH: West Vancouver beaches latest to be closed due to high E.coli count
Hot weather can also contribute to the high bacterial levels.
“With the increase in temperature that we’re seeing, that’s not only air temperature, that does affect water temperature and it may result in more closures,” Daly said.
Anyone who is exposed to the water should shower immediately using soap and water, paying special attention to any cuts and scrapes.
Wet clothing, bathing suits or towels should also be washed right away.
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