Australia’s Beaches Are Full of Fecal Matter

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People enjoy the beach in Melbourne, Australia on January 8, 2017.Recep Sakar / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

Things have gotten pretty shitty down under. No, we’re not talking about Trump’s diplomatic ruckus with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. We’re talking about actual shit this time.

Australia's EPA announced Monday that all 36 of Melbourne’s swimming beaches are unsafe for recreation after the area received more than one month’s worth of average rainfall in a single day. The rain caused animal and human fecal matter to wash into the beaches, contaminating the entire bay with unsafe levels of bacteria called enterococci, which according to the NIH, is “found in high concentrations in human feces.”

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Announcements from the EPA encouraged beach goers to avoid all contact with the water until the storm water pollution drains itself out of the bay and safer levels are reached. Anyone who does come into contact with the water would be asking for a nasty illness or infection — especially gastrointestinal distress. Anyone with an open wound who comes into contact with enterococci has the chance of contracting a VRE infection, which causes fever, chills, body aches, and painful urination.

Because of the poor exchange of water coming in and out of the bay, the massive amount of contaminated water isn’t able to drain from the bay as quickly as it flowed in. "What we know historically is that in 24 to 48 hours, the system bounces back,” EPA group manager of applied sciences Dr. Anthony Boxshall said in a report from The Age. “We kind of expect it's on that scale.”

Dr. Boxshall encourages travelers and beach goers to consult the EPA's twice-daily water quality updates online before heading down to the beach. 

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