Thursday, February 29, 2024

Beware of dogs at the beach


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SUMMER IS UPON US and lots of people will be using our beaches more than ever, both locals and tourist alike.

I would like to warn all beach users of the pending danger lying beneath the sand: Cutaneneous Larva Migrans, commonly called “beach worm” due to the immature stages [larvae] of the hookworm Ancylostoma Canium.

Dogs and cats roam around picnic tables to forage for scraps left by these beach users.

The area around these tables are very seldom washed by the surf so these worms can stay in the sand for long periods just waiting for the next victim.

Given a number of the regular beach users at Brandons Beach were infected, I made it my business to find out if other beaches were affected.

It seems that wherever strays or owned dogs are allowed to roam freely to defecate in the sand is where these worms may be found.

The larva buries itself under the skin through abrasions or opening on the skin, if not treated, starts actively to migrate under the skin from the point of entry, resulting in severe itching and swelling of the area.

From information given by people who were infected (including me), it is a very uncomfortable feeling, especially if you are not aware of what is causing the severe itching.

One person told me he actually took a razor and cut the area to relieve the itching.

A number of lifeguards were also infected. If you should feel any discomfort in your, feet, hands or tummy after visiting the beach, you should seek medical attention.

It must be said that the present legislation states that any dog on the beach, or public place should be accompanied by its owner and on a lead, and the owner should clean up after their dogs.

These problems cause great concern, given the possible negative effects on the tourist industry that could result.

This brings me to another observation. People have a habit of taking their dogs to the beach and taking the leads off allowing the dog to wander.

A loose dog can spell danger for other beach users. Dogs loose on the beach are a potential danger because most Barbadians are afraid of dogs.

At the first sight of a dog, some Barbadians would freeze, so imagine a scenario where a large dog approaches a stranger on the beach and that person is afraid.

What can happen is that the person might start screaming, which will trigger the dog that is also afraid because he is in a strange environment.



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