Baton Rouge – In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, state officials are suspending all activities related to the Louisiana BEACH Monitoring Program through Oct. 31, the end of swim season.

The Louisiana BEACH Monitoring Program is a partnership between the Department of Health and Hospitals, the Department of Environmental Quality, the Louisiana Office of State Parks, Cameron Parish Police Jury, The Town of Grand Isle and Lafourche Parish Police Jury. The program monitors bacteria levels of water at 13 beach locations -- Cypremort, Fontainebleau and Grand Isle state parks, and Fourchon, Holly, Hackberry, Rutherford, Martin, Dung , Little Florida, Gulf Breeze, Grand Isle and Constance beaches.

 After the hurricane, some of the beach sites monitored through the program are badly damaged and not easily accessible. Also, the state’s public health laboratory, where the beach water samples were analyzed each week, is located in New Orleans and is now out of commission

 While weekly sampling and analysis is unavailable, the Department of Health urges all residents to follow the state’s general swimming advisory. A standard warning issued each year from the State Health Officer advises residents to “swim at your own risk” in public waterways.

 Residents should exercise caution when swimming and avoid swallowing the water.  After swimming, people should rinse or bathe in fresh water as a precaution and should wash hands before eating, drinking or smoking. 

 By following these few simple safety tips, swimmers can reduce the risk of disease for themselves and their families from waterborne contaminants that may be present in the coastal waters.