Health & Medicine

E. coli levels drop at popular Sacramento beach

Here’s what you need to know about E. coli

What is E. coli? Our video explainer looks at what symptoms to look for, and how outbreaks happen.
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What is E. coli? Our video explainer looks at what symptoms to look for, and how outbreaks happen.

New tests taken at one of Sacramento’s most popular public beaches recorded the lowest levels of E. coli in the water all year.

The bacteria is typically found in fecal matter and can enter local waterways through domestic or wild animal waste, sewage overflows, illegal trash dumping and storm water systems. Most strains don’t pose a threat to humans, but high levels of E. coli found in Sacramento’s rivers and streams have concerned officials enough to warn swimmers about potential health risks.

Tiscornia Beach, near Discovery Park where the American and Sacramento rivers flow together, exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s recreational safety threshold in seven of 11 tests conducted by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board this year.

The water board began weekly tests at the well-known spot, eight other sites on the lower American River and two places on Steelhead Creek at the start of the year. Roughly 20 percent of the tests recorded risky E. coli levels since Jan. 11.

A round of new tests taken Thursday reported safe results at all 11 sites along the two waterways. Tiscornia Beach recorded E. coli levels eight times lower than the standard.

Sacramento County officials still advise swimmers to use caution at four sites along the American River near Discovery Park.

The warnings include directives to supervise children and pets near the water, avoid algae blooms and trash and shower after swimming.

People who are sick, suffer from immunodeficiency disorders or those with open wounds should not go into the river. Don’t swim for a few days after big rainstorms, which cause bacteria levels to increase. And definitely don’t drink the water, according to the county.

An unrelated E. coli outbreak prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn consumers not to buy or eat romaine lettuce unless you confirm that it was not grown near Yuma, Ariz., on Friday. The agency reported that 53 people have gotten sick from E. coli infections, including one Californian, as of Wednesday.