July 7 (UPI) -- A toxic algae bloom shut down all of the beaches along Missippi's Gulf Coast, officials announced Sunday.
The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality announced the closure of Pascagoula Beach East and West on Sunday in addition to previously announced closures for 19 other beaches in Hancock County, Harrison County and Jackson County due to a blue-green Harmful Algae Bloom.
Additional water contact advisories were also issued for a segment of the Jourdan River in Hancock County stretching from the I-10 bridge to the St. Louis Bay.
"MDEQ advises people, and their pets, to avoid water contact such as swimming or wading because exposure to blue-green HAB can be harmful," the agency said.
An algal bloom is defined as a "rapid growth of algae on the surface of the water" and contact with water affected by the HAB can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
"MDEQ advises that those exposed wash with soap and water and to not eat fish or any other seafood taken from affected areas," the agency said.
The advisories specifically affect water contact and do not prohibit use of the sand portions of the listed beaches.