A POTENTIALLY dangerous species of marine bacteria has been found in Sydney Harbour and swimmers are being told to take simple precautions.
According to a new study, two species of Vibrio bacteria were found in high concentrations when the water in the harbour was at its warmest and in areas where it was not as salty. This included around Parramatta Park, Olympic Park and Rozelle.
Vibrio bacteria can cause cholera but this strain was not found in the samples.
However, a related strain of the bacteria was found in high quantities and this can cause skin infections and gastrointestinal infections when exposed to open wounds.
Another strain Vibrio vulnificus was also found. This particular strain is known in the US for causing 95 per cent of all deaths from people eating contaminated seafood. It also causes flesh-eating infections in swimmers and this has killed up to half the people who developed the condition.
One of the authors of the University of Technology Sydney report, said people did not need to be super alarmed about the findings at this stage.
“I don’t think people should change the way they use their local beaches, but it is something local management authorities should be aware of,” Associate Professor Justin Seymour told Fairfax.
In other parts of the world the bacteria has been linked to rising temperatures of seawater and this could have implications for Australia if climate change causes water to heat up in the country’s southeast part.
The Health Department has advised swimmers to take simple precautions such as not getting water in their mouths, keeping wounds covered with watertight dressings and being careful to avoid injury on sharp objects.