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Rains bring bacteria warning for Central Coast beaches 

SLO County health officials are warning residents to stay out of the water at the county’s beaches as the area experiences some of the season’s first hard rains.

The county’s environmental health services department issued a rain advisory for all county beaches Dec. 22 as rain fell throughout the Central Coast area. The advisory didn’t close any of the beaches but urged the public to refrain from ocean water activities for 72 hours after the rain ceases.

The danger lies in contamination of the water from bacteria and debris washed down into the ocean.

“When we have these first few rain events, we are concerned about what gets flushed from the watershed into the ocean,” said Rich Lichtenfels, supervisor for the county’s Environmental Heath Services Department.

That debris can include animal droppings and other debris that carry bacteria and various microbes that can make humans sick.

“There’s a range of bacteria and viruses in that soup,” Lichtenfels said. 

He said those viruses and bacteria could lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Rain is likely to sporadically continue for the remainder of the week, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service. While the weather is expected to be mostly sunny during the day, there is a 30 percent chance of rain the night of Dec. 23, followed by a 60 percent chance of rain on Christmas Eve. There is a 20 percent chance of rain expected on Christmas Day in SLO, according to the NWS. 

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