Swimming and water activity at two Ocean County beaches is prohibited because of testing that showed high levels of bacteria in the water.

Water samples taken at Windward Beach in Brick, which is along the Metedeconk River, and the 25th Street Beach in Barnegat, on Barnegat Bay, both came back with results showing a high level of Enterococci bacteria.

The 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.

When results from additional testing are below the state standard, the water will be available for swimming again.

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

In most cases, people may still be allowed on the sand of a closed beach even though water access is restricted.

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

Swimming in or contact with the water, according to 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, DEP said. But they can occasionally be more serious, especially in children and the elderly.

Three other beaches in Wildwood and North Wildwood which tested high earlier in the week have returned to normal levels.

The Summerfest concert scheduled for Thursday night at Windward Beach is still scheduled to happen. Garden State Radio will perform, followed by a fireworks display.

Previous reporting by Dino Flammia was used in this report.

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