PASCAGOULA, Miss. — People are being warned to stay out of the water along the Mississippi Gulf Coast as toxic bacteria spread eastward.

The Department of Environmental Quality started closing beaches June 22. It warns that polluted floodwaters have fed an outbreak of cyanobacterium, or blue-green algae, which causes rashes, diarrhea, and vomiting. It is spreading as water from the Mississippi River pours into the Gulf of Mexico.

Mississippi’s beaches are a tourist attraction, but those farther east along the Gulf Coast in Alabama and Florida draw more visitors because the water is generally clearer, with more waves. Mississippi’s barrier islands tend to keep the ocean relatively calm.


The National Park Service said Sunday that Mississippi barrier island beaches remain open; rangers were monitoring water conditions. Still open was the popular tourism site of Ship Island, 11 miles south of Gulfport and Biloxi.