Tourists looking to spend a relaxing day enjoying the waves at El Tecolote Beach in La Paz may want to reconsider their plans and select a different beach instead.
Problems at El Tecolote
According to safety studies conducted by the Citizen Observation Network, El Tecolote Beach in Los Cabos was found to have unsafe levels of bacteria in the water.
The organization officially deemed the water unsafe for swimming, fishing and other recreational activities by locals and tourists.
They reported their findings to the Baja California Sur State Commission For the Protection of Sanitary Risks with the recommendation to close the beach.
According to the testing, El Tecolote Beach in La Paz measured 246 on the Most Probable Number (MPN) scale; a general scale used to measure bacterial impact. The level set by the Baja California Sur State Commission For the Protection of Sanitary Risks is not to exceed 200 MPN.
Enterococci bacteria live in the gut of animals and cause millions of human and animal infections around the world every year. They are often used to test water quality and are often a measure of fecal material, or human and animal waste, in water.
They are directly related to human health outcomes and unfortunately several species are considered resistant to common antibiotics, making an infection difficult to treat.
Enterococci bacteria can directly sicken swimmers and other recreational users of oceans, rivers, and lakes contaminated by animal waste runoff or even untreated human sewage. It can cause significant infections of the eyes, skin, ears and respiratory tract of those that come in contact with the bacteria.
Additionally, eating fish and shellfish from contaminated water can also make tourists sick.
Impact in La Paz
The finding of Enterococci bacteria in one of the popular beaches in La Paz truly comes at a troubling time. The beaches are just getting back to normal after the busy peak travel season and Easter weekend.
Many tourists, as well as La Paz locals, were in the El Tecolote beach waters enjoying their spring break. When the water became infected and to what extent tourists were exposed may never be known.
What Could Happen?
There are several infections that could occur from an Enterococci bacterial infection.
Tourists could be exposed to urinary tract infections, wound infections, bacteremia, and even endocarditis. Most of the serious conditions only appear in tourists with weakened immune systems.
For example, bacteremia is an infection of the bloodstream by Enterococci bacteria. The symptoms to watch for are flu-like in nature, such as fever and chills, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. In extreme cases, trouble breathing and fast heart rates may be present.
Meanwhile, endocarditis is an infection caused when bacteria attach to the heart valves. Flu-like symptoms are also present with this infection. But it may also result in tiny bumps on hands or feet and spots on the whites of the eyes or roof of the mouth.
Tourists that were present at El Tecolote beach in La Paz during the week up to and including the Easter weekend should monitor their health for any unusual conditions, especially those outlined for bacteremia and endocarditis.
If any unusual symptoms occur, visitors should seek medical attention immediately.
Follow Up Testing Plans
Plans are in place to continue to test the waters of El Tecolote Beach in La Paz for the presence of Enterococci bacteria and to continue to report the results to the Baja California Sur State Commission For the Protection of Sanitary Risks.
Hopes are that the condition is only temporary and tourists wanting to swim at El Tecolote beach in La Paz will be able to very soon.
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