State launches investigative study on fecal bacteria issues in ocean water at Sunset Bay

Sunset Bay State Park by Debbie Tegtmeier via ChimeIn

COOS BAY, Ore. - State agencies have launched an investigative study into the repeated surges in fecal bacteria levels at Sunset Bay State Park Beach.

"The bacteria results seem to be higher for our Big Creek sample locations. That kind of leads up to believe that the bacteria is coming from Big Creek, into the bay," said Tara Chetock, who coordinates monitoring for the state. "The fact that we are doing the study and are seeing a lot of high readings, that's going to really help us to pinpoint where the issue is coming from."

Water samples showing higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria levels prompted a public health advisory Thursday. The Oregon Health Authority urged the public to avoid contact water.

The bacteria can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses.

The source could be animals or humans.

That warning was lifted Friday.

But the beach has been the subject of repeat public health warnings this year.

As a result, the Oregon Health Authority and the Department of Environmental Quality have launched an investigative study.

The agencies anticipate the results will be released to the public next spring or early summer.

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