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Released: April 15, 2014 - Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Contaminated Beaches
 

DOS

United States Consulate General Hamilton, Bermuda

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Contaminated Beaches

April 15, 2014

The U.S. Consulate General in Hamilton, Bermuda, informs U.S. citizens of a public concern regarding the contamination of beaches. A scientific study conducted in 2013 by the University of Laval, the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, the Bermuda Departments of Conservation, Health, and Environment, and the Bermuda Central Government Laboratory reports that ongoing discharge of raw sewage off Bermuda’s south coast causes intermittent contamination of the waters along the island’s south shore beaches, creating a public health hazard.  Changing weather conditions – wind, swells, tides, and rain – can bring rapid degradation of water quality along the beaches, resulting in human bacteria levels from fecal contamination up to four times the acceptable U.S. standard.  In 2013, as many as five of the beaches were described as “unfit for recreational use” on different occasions based on water samples.

According to the study, possible negative health effects for swimmers include  gastroenteritis, ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and staph infections.  In addition, as a general medical matter, persons exposed to sewage-contaminated water face increased risk of Hepatitis A, eye infections, and typhoid.  Those who intend to enter the waters along the south shore may wish to consider Hepatitis A and typhoid immunizations prior to doing so. While the discharge continues, the Government of Bermuda told local media in early April that it had switched on a new sewage treatment facility which it says will provide at least a 17 percent improvement to the quality of the wastewater discharged off the south shore.  The Government had previously announced that it planned to take additional measures to reduce or treat the discharge. 

To obtain Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel notices, call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) from within the United States, or 1-404-639-3534 from overseas, or visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Bermuda enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Bermuda.  For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.  The U.S. Consulate in Hamilton is located at 16 Middle Road, Devonshire DV 03 and is open Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and can be reached at (441) 295-1342.  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the afterhours emergency number for the U.S. Consulate is (441) 335-3828. The U.S. Consulate website is http://hamilton.usconsulate.gov