Maui News

High Bacteria Count Advisory at Pu‘unoa “Baby” Beach, Maui

November 6, 2021, 5:35 AM HST
* Updated November 5, 5:48 PM
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Maui Now graphic.

The public is advised of a water quality exceedance of enterococci at Puʻunoa “Baby” Beach, in West Maui. Levels of 178 per 100 mL have been detected during routine beach monitoring–that exceeds the threshold 130 enterococci per 100 mL.

The advisory was issued by the state Department of Health, Clean Water Branch because testing for enterococci indicate that “potentially harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or parasites may be present in the water. Swimming at beaches with pollution in the water may make you ill.”

According to the advisory, “Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are the most likely populations to develop illnesses or infections after coming into contact with polluted water, usually while swimming. Fortunately, while swimming-related illnesses can be unpleasant, they are usually not very serious – they require little or no treatment or get better quickly upon treatment, and they have no long-term health effects.”

The DOH advises: “The most common illness associated with swimming in water polluted by fecal pathogens is gastroenteritis. It occurs in a variety of forms that can have one or more of the following symptoms: nausea, vomiting, stomachache, diarrhea, headache or fever. Other minor illnesses associated with swimming include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. In highly polluted water, swimmers may occasionally be exposed to more serious diseases.”

Not all illnesses from a day at the beach are from swimming, according to the DOH. “Food poisoning from improperly refrigerated picnic lunches may also have some of the same symptoms as swimming-related illnesses, including stomachache, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. At any given time and place, we are constantly exposed to a variety of microorganisms that have the potential of making us ill,” the DOH states.

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The beach has been posted and this advisory will remain in effect until water sample results no longer exceed the threshold level.

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