A swimming advisory on a section of Burkes Beach on Hilton Head Island has been lifted, just in time for the Labor Day weekend.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced in a news release Friday evening that the area is safe for swimming again, a day after a DHEC staff member had put a sign on the walkway to the beach cautioning against the risk of elevated levels of bacteria in the water.
The advisory had affected an area 200 feet above and 200 feet below the beach access at the end of Burkes Beach Road, according to David Payne of DHEC's Region 8 Environmental Quality Control Office.
Even during the advisory, it was still safe to wade, collect shells and fish in the area, as long as the person has no cuts or other wounds, which could become infected.
DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick elaborated on that risk Friday, saying such temporary advisories often are related to strong storms like those that hit Beaufort County earlier this week.
"I don't want to speculate on what caused high levels (of bacteria) on that particular beach," he said, "but they're often a result of stormwater runoff."
DHEC's website says samples are collected daily at sites of temporary advisories until the advisory is lifted.
Myrick said DHEC tests for a strain of bacteria called enterococcus, which can cause urinary tract infections, diverticulitis and meningitis.
Ralph Wagner, director of the Hilton Head Beach Patrol, said the brief swimming advisory was the first of the summer on Hilton Head Island.
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