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Maryland beaches rated healthy nearly 99 percent of the time in 2016

Pollution and bacteria prompted Maryland health officials to warn beachgoers of health hazards about 200 times last year, among the fewest in more than a decade.

The state's 185 public beaches were open without any health advisories 98.9 percent of the time in 2016, according to the Maryland Healthy Beaches report. It was a fifth-straight year that figure exceeded 98 percent.

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That matched previous high marks in 2014 and 2012. As many as 700 or 800 advisories were issued in past years, like 2006, 2007 and 2010.

No health advisories have ever been issued for Ocean City beaches since the current monitoring program launched in 2000.

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Swimmers are encouraged to avoid waters near storm drains, especially within 48 hours of a heavy rain event; to avoid swallowing bay or ocean water; to avoid swimming while sick or with an open cut or sore; and to bathe or shower after swimming.

People with open wounds, liver disease or weakened immune systems should take special care when swimming in the Chesapeake Bay because of the risk of Vibrio bacterial infection. Vibrio are found naturally in brackish waters and can cause life-threatening illness.

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