Families discouraged from swimming in ocean waters by Galveston

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GALVESTON, Texas – Swimming in the water in Galveston sounds refreshing, but now experts are comparing it to ‘swimming in a toilet.’

Health officials have asked people to stay out of the Gulf of Mexico after higher-than-normal bacteria levels were found in those areas.

Yolanda Conrad and her family were just one of the hundreds of families taking a dip in the ocean on a hot summer day.

However, she didn’t know about the health warning.

“If there’s that concern, then I also have that concern. I don’t want my family to get sick,” Conrad told ABC 13.

Health officials measured the bacteria in what are called Colony Forming Units. Federal standards say that anything over 104 CFUs is dangerous.

On some beaches in Galveston, the bacteria in the water tested higher than 140 CFUs.

In fact, water samples from 17 of the 52 Galveston area beaches revealed significantly elevated levels of bacteria.

“I’m probably not going to go into the water,” said Kevin Ortega, who was vacationing in Galveston.

While the health risks of swimming in bacteria-laden water range from having an upset stomach to more serious infections, most officials agree that the dangers are minimal.

“What we want to do is give people the information so they can make their own choices. For me, a healthy adult, I swam this morning. I wouldn’t worry about it. But if I had open sores or I was immuno-compromised I would give it a second thought,” said Chief Peter Davis, with the Galveston Island Beach Patrol.

Health officials say it will likely be several more days until the water quality improves.

Until then, authorities will continue to test the water each day.

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