Both Pay Beach in Oak Bluffs and Seth’s Pond in West Tisbury have been closed due to higher than allowed levels of enterococci bacteria.
According to the Martha’s Vineyard Times, the samples of water taken today at Pay Beach that runs along Sea View Avenue “showed 163 colony forming units per 100 milliliters (cfu/100ml) of enterococci bacteria. State regulators require beaches closed if the level exceeds 104 cfu/100ml.”
Elevated levels of the bacteria were also found in West Tisbury at Seth’s Pond which has been closed since July 3rd.
The Massachusetts Bureau of Environmental Health (BEH) defines enterococci as "a group of bacterial species within the Streptococcus genus, some of which (e.g. Streptococcus faecalis) are typically found in human and animal intestines and are therefore present in sewage. These tests are also referred to as indicator organisms that are used to predict the presence of pathogenic, or disease-causing, organisms associated with fecal contamination. While in most cases the indicator organisms themselves are not pathogenic, they have similar life cycles and die-off rates to pathogens and are also found along with pathogens in human and animal waste."
Swimming in polluted water can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, respiratory symptoms like sore throat, cough, runny nose, and sneezing, eye and ear symptoms including irritation, earache, and itchiness, dermatological symptoms like skin rash and itching, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills. Most of these symptoms are minor most of the time but can occasionally be more serious, especially in sensitive populations (e.g. immuno-compromised children and elderly).
Up-to-date water-testing results for all beaches on the Island and in the commonwealth can be found at the BEH’s website.