Home Environment Northwest Florida beaches pose no risk of “flesh-eating” bacteria

Northwest Florida beaches pose no risk of “flesh-eating” bacteria

In the wake of errant remarks made by an Atlanta meteorologist regarding statements that “flesh-eating” bacteria was present along Gulf Coast area beaches, local officials along the Florida panhandle have clarified such reports are false.

Glenn Burns of WSB-TV in Atlanta caused a social media stir on Wednesday, with the news station warning viewers that the National Weather Service was stating “toxic levels of bacteria” were present at Gulf Coast beaches. The reports went so far as to claim “flesh-eating” bacteria was present.


The National Weather Service in Mobile said today that they do not issue swim advisories and such reports are false.

“The National Weather Service in Mobile, AL has not issued any sort of swimming advisory,” NWS said in a statement. “That sort of advisory is issued by the Florida Department of Health, not the NWS.”

The Florida Department of Health (DoH) has issued temporary health advisories for bayous and beaches in Okaloosa and Walton counties, which have no-swimming advisories posted due to higher levels of a enterococci bacteria.

According to DoH officials, Enterococci are bacteria that normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals.

“The presence of enteric bacteria can be an indication of fecal pollution, which may come from stormwater runoff, pets and wildlife, and human sewage,” DoH officials said. “If they are present in high concentrations in recreational waters and are ingested while swimming or enter the skin through a cut or sore, they may cause human disease, infections or rashes.”

According to weekly water quality monitoring results, all Florida panhandle beaches water quality are satisfactory at present for fecal indicator bacteria, except six in Okaloosa County, and two in Walton County which have a “no swim” advisory.

Okaloosa County’s are: Garniers Park, Poquito Park, Rocky Bayou State Park, East Pass, Clement E. Taylor Park, Henderson Beach.

Walton County’s are: County Park (Miramar) Beach and Blue Mountain Beach.

The advisories are quite common after heavy rains and thunderstorms, as stormwater runoff drains in local waterways. Swimming advisories are often rescinded within 24 to 48 hours.

Okaloosa County Healthy Beaches monitoring results

Walton County Healthy Beaches monitoring results