Tourist Illnesses Expected Again 2017
Repeated and numerous testing samples from the Summer 2016 Department of Health and Environmental control prove consistent ongoing high bacteria readings in eight infected areas of the city of Myrtle Beach beachfront. High bacteria readings set unsafe 2016 high marks more than 20 different times with readings that were above 40 times too high bacteria for safe swimming.
Environmental groups like the Coastal Conservation League, have noted that the City of Myrtle Beach continues to struggle in addressing the critical health safety issues associated with storm water runoff after rains which cause these high bacteria spikes. “We continue to monitor the City’s efforts to remove the remaining outfalls. We understand that it will take a significant amount of funding to complete this, but we encourage the City to make this a top priority and set a concrete timeline. We see this being a win-win for residents, tourists and the City when it comes to having a clean, healthy beach that everyone can safely enjoy,” says Emily Cedzo of the Coastal Conservation League.
While the city of Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce denied there were any problems with ocean water quality last March 2016, DHEC reports repeatedly came in from 2 times to 40 times unsafe throughout the late Spring and Summer season of 2016.
KYLA MILES’ DAUGHTER RAN 105 FEVER AFTER SWIMMING TOO CLOSE TO SWASH
In the peak swimming month of July, locals and tourists began reporting illnesses concerning themselves and their children who had mistakenly swum too close to the infected areas. Kyla Miles, who lives at Market Common in Myrtle Beach, is one mother who knows the frightening symptoms that do occur when a small child swims too close to a bacteria infected beachfront swash area. “A mother’s worst nightmare is when their child wakes up in the middle of the night with a 105 fever, and after multiple medical tests later the results are scary. A bacteria that came from what I thought was a safe place, the beach, ” said Kyla.
As for the 2017 season, Myrtle Beach city government elected leaders have made no efforts to put timelines on project reports sent in by DDC Engineers. Reports we studied of the eight infected areas turned in by Mike Wooten, DDC Engineers President, did lay out the necessary work needed to fix the infected areas. However, none of the projects had a start date and no timelines were put in place for any of the work. Toxic stormwater runoff will continue to run from the streets of Myrtle Beach and drain directly onto the oceanfront infected beach areas all Summer 2017.
The City of North Myrtle Beach has laid out a comprehensive $150 million plan to completely eliminate any oceanfront stormwater runoff issues. While the plan will take years to accomplish, the city is being pro-active in its approach. As such, the city of North Myrtle Beach continues to attract longer stay, higher end family vacationers. Longer stay tourism growth continues to increase in the cities of Garden City beach and Pawleys Island beach as well. Each of these cities is not required to post long term swim advisories by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control division. No advisories are required as the beaches in those cities do not routinely show high bacteria readings.
The ongoing effects of the high bacteria areas have created a brand issue for the city of Myrtle Beach. The city of Myrtle Beach is only a 10-mile section of the greater 60 mile Grand Strand coast that runs from Little River to Pawleys Island. The city of Myrtle Beach has trended shorter two and three-night last minute guests while surrounding cities are increasingly attracting longer seven-night stay families.
The Department of Health reports that the most common recreational water illnesses from swimming in ocean areas with high bacteria readings are gastrointestinal and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. These illnesses result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing organisms. Contact with contaminated water can also cause upper respiratory (ear, nose and throat), and wound infections. Young children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable to recreational water illnesses.
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