Beach visitors are urged to avoid swimming or surfing in the ocean a quarter mile north and south of Ballona Creek following a recent sewage spill, the county Department of Public Health announced.

Approximately 5,000 gallons of sewage may have entered Centinela Creek, which discharges into Ballona Creek that runs to the ocean, a department advisory said. The sand area of the creek is not affected.

Advisory signs have been posted as a precautionarymeasure.

The advisory will be in effect until at least 4 p.m. Thursday,Jan. 19, pending test results that measure the bacteria levelin the ocean water.

“We are asking people to avoid entering or swimming in the ocean in the area immediately surrounding Ballona Creek,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, director of Public Health and county health officer.

“Our first priority is to protect the health and safety of the people who visit the beach and water areas. Once we determine bacteria levels in the water have returned to normal, we will remove the beach advisory.”

The Department of Public Health was notified by the Inglewood Department of Public Works Jan. 17 regarding the discharge. Inglewood Public Works is conducting the clean-up effort.