Toxic bacteria keeps swimmers out of Mississippi beaches

Image Source: MGN

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) -- Toxic bacteria are keeping swimmers out of the water on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and it will be weeks before financial information shows whether beach closures are hurting the local economy.

The communications director for the tourism agency Coastal Mississippi, Erin Rosetti, says Monday she's seeing fewer people hanging out on sand beaches.

The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality is warning people and pets to stay out of saltwater near the mainland beaches.

Polluted Midwest floodwaters have fed an outbreak of cyanobacterium. Commonly known as blue-green algae, it can cause rashes, diarrhea and vomiting. It is spreading eastward as water from the Mississippi River pours into the Gulf of Mexico.

Beaches remain open on Mississippi's barrier islands miles offshore.

Rosetti says other water activities remain available, such as river kayaking.