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Lake County News Release
May 23, 2012

Contact:
Leslie Piotrowski
(847) 377-8055

Carolyn Waller

 (847) 377-8099

Lake County Health Department


Health Department Provides Beach Advisory Information Online
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Lake County beachgoers can access daily information on Lake Michigan beach advisories and swim bans through the Lake County Health Department/Community Health Center's Web site by visiting: http://www.lakecountyil.gov/Health/want/Pages/BeachAdvisory.aspx

"A beach may close temporarily due to high bacteria counts," said the Health Department's Executive Director Irene Pierce. "High bacteria counts can be caused by stormwater runoff, sewage overflow, nearby septic failure and large quantities of droppings from geese or seagulls. While beach closings in Lake County are a relatively infrequent occurrence, it is still best to check before you head to your favorite beach."
 
Throughout the summer, the Health Department's Environmental Services samples 12 beaches along Lake Michigan four days per week.  The web page is updated daily by 10 a.m. These beaches include:

North Point Marina Beach                      Winthrop Harbor
Illinois Beach State Park North Beach     Zion
Illinois Beach State Park South Beach     Zion
Illinois Beach State Park Resort Beach    Zion
Waukegan North Beach                         Waukegan
Waukegan South Beach                         Waukegan
Lake Bluff Dog Beach                             Lake Bluff
Lake Bluff Sunrise Beach                        Lake Bluff
Forest Park Beach                                 Lake Forest
Moraine Dog Beach                                Highland Park
Park Avenue Beach                                Highland Park
Rosewood Beach                                   Highland Park

The Health Department tests the water samples for E. coli bacteria, which are found in the intestines of almost all warm-blooded animals.  While not all strains of E. coli are the same, certain strains can make humans sick if ingested in high enough concentrations. E. coli also serves as an indicator that other potentially harmful pathogens may be present.  If water samples come back high for E. coli (235 E. coli/100 ml), the beach's manager is notified and a sign is posted indicating the beach closure. In addition, rainfall washes pollutants towards the lake and can lead to elevated bacteria levels in the water. Therefore, the Health Department advises residents to avoid swimming after a large rain event.

Swimming related illnesses are typically minor.  The most common illness is gastroenteritis, which causes flu-like symptoms that typically develop 1-2 days after exposure.  Other minor illnesses include ear, eye, nose and throat infections. Skin parasites such as ringworm and schistosomiasis (swimmers itch) can be transmitted in areas of water degradation.  Although there are many serious illnesses transmitted through water, swimmers are rarely exposed to these more serious diseases in the United States.   

In addition to monitoring swimming beaches along Lake Michigan in Lake County, the
Health Department also monitors licensed beaches on inland lakes, including the Chain O'Lakes. For more information on beach monitoring, please call Environmental Services at: (847) 377-8030.

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