VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WVEC) -- The Department of Public Health lifted a swimming advisory for the Cape Henry area, between Fort Story and Starfish Road.

The advisory was issued Wednesday afternoon after tests showed bacteria levels in the water exceeded the State Water Quality Standards.

“The coastal waters of Virginia are generally very clean, and we test them weekly from May through September,” said Heidi Kulberg, M.D., director of the Virginia Beach Department of Public Health. “On the occasions when waters fail to meet the standards, we need to protect public health by letting residents and visitors know.”

Beach water is checked routinely during the summer for bacteria levels, using indicator organisms such as enterococci.

The bacteria, known as enterococci, is a group of organisms used to determine the extent of fecal contamination of recreational waters. While these organisms do not cause illness, scientific studies indicate that their presence is closely correlated to the presence of other disease-causing organisms.

People swimming or playing in waters with bacteria levels higher than the standard have an increased risk of developing gastrointestinal illness.