Bacteria at La Jolla Cove spikes tenfold

Posted at 5:29 PM, Oct 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-31 21:10:15-04

SAN DIEGO - San Diegans are still being warned to stay out of the waters at La Jolla Cove, as new numbers show there is just too much harmful bacteria in the water.

Warning signs are staying up at the cove because recent tests show levels of the bacteria are more than 10 times higher than they should be.

While visitors are being told to stay out of the water, that didn't stop Daniel Gutierrez from snorkeling at the cove Monday.

"Just to enjoy the water, I never really put much thought into it," he said. "It doesn't really bother me."

Others are having a much different reaction to the elevated levels of bacteria at La Jolla Cove.

Entire events have been canceled, and five lifeguards have already come down with staph infections.

As of now, lifeguards won't get into the water unless there's a life-threatening emergency.

Bob West said a recent swim nearly cost him his leg, and now 10News has learned how dangerous bacteria is floating around in these waters.

"Two days later, I had a 104-degree temperature and my leg doubled in size," West said.

Tests earlier this month showed harmful bacteria levels of fecal coliform and enterococci that were more than 10 times the norm.

Certain types have spiked every month since July, and the bacteria has swelled to some of its highest levels since 1999.

Keith Kezer, who oversees the San Diego County's Beach and Bay Program, cited a bigger sea lion population, bird droppings washing into the water, or as simple as a higher number of tourists with young kids who could be having accidents in the water.

The county will test the waters weekly. It uses a monthly moving average on bacteria levels to determine whether the warning signs should come down.

Gutierrez, who at first didn't see the warning signs, said it really doesn't matter to him.

"I'm planning on going back in right now," he said.

Moments later, he made good on that promise, without a hint of hesitation.