Beware of Bacteria Infested Beaches

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If you're planning a trip to a Big Bend beach this weekend you may want to think twice before jumping in the water. Health officials are warning of high bacteria levels at hot spots such as Shell Point and Mashes Sands.

"If the water contaminated, then you can get all types of germs," said Hurman Jefferson, who instead is spending the day boating with his wife at St. Marks.

Rod Strickland says growing up he always swam in the waters. These days, though, he stays out.

"It's just not safe, I wouldn't think. It would be like jumping in a swimming pool with bacteria."

Wakulla health officials say even a quick dip to cool off could cause, vomiting, diarrhea, ear infections, conjunctivitis, or skin rashes.

"I think I would have to take the advice of those who are really knowledgeable, and it would be sort of a big risk to do something against what they're posting as a public notice," said Gary Redding, who recently purchased a vacation home at Shell Point.

Although many say they'd like to swim, some residents like Strickland say he's just fine staying dry and admiring mother nature.

"We go out to the beach to enjoy ourselves, to sunbathe."

Redding agrees. He says looking out on paradise was the reason for his purchase.

“We just love the beauty of the whole scene."

Health officials say many beaches get bacteria, but a lot of times the wind and current wash it away. They say their theory is these beaches just get very little water movement, meaning the bacteria doesn't get flushed out.

Also some Taylor beaches are muddy, and bacteria likes the mud.

The waters to stay out of right now are Mashes Sands, Shell Point, Dekle Beach, Keaton Beach, Cedar Beach and Hagens Cove.

Health officials say it could take two to six weeks for the bacteria to clear out.