MRSA, the flesh-eating staph bacteria known to inhabit hospitals and gym lockers, is now being found at public beaches.
A group headed by Marilyn Roberts of the University of Washington tested water at 11 beaches in the state and found serious staph strains in nine of them. Seven of 13 MRSA samples were found to be multi-drug resistant, and five were similar to those found in hospitals.
Just because this study was done in Puget Sound, don't think you're safe anywhere. The study should be simple to replicate.
Roberts' advice is to wash that sand off before you go home, and be especially careful if you have any cut skin. The risk of infection remains low, but it's not non-existent.
The Association of Medical Microbiologists insists that MRSA "rarely, if ever, presents a risk to the general public," being no more difficult to get than other staph infections, just more difficult to treat.
Fortunately staying safe from MRSA requires the same protocol as staying safe from the flu. See above.