Nature Foundation warns against beach parasites

POSTED: 06/12/13 1:07 PM

Simpson Bay Beach especially affected

St. Maarten – The Nature Foundation warns beachgoers against parasitic worms that have affected people in particular on the Simpson Bay Beach. The foundation urges pet-owners to clean up after their animals and not to leave exposed feces on the beach.

The Nature Foundation received recently numerous complaints about parasitic infections. Several victims have had to go to hospital to have parasitic worms extracted from their body.

According to an article in Discovery Health the worms enter the body from the bottom of the foot. They most likely originate from animal feces.

The infection causes red, raised and itchy irritation of the skin in track-like patterns that may migrate day-to-day as the parasite travels beneath the skin’s surface.

Hookworm eggs found in animal feces hatch and form larvae that cause cutaneous larva migrants. “The larvae live in warm, moist, sandy soil and are determined sturdy parasites that are able to penetrate human skin, even through something as seemingly protective as a beach towel,” discovery health wrote about this issue.

While the Nature Foundation calls on pet owners to clean up after their animals, it is also acutely aware of the presence of stray dogs and cats. “It is impossible to pick up after every animal on Simpson Bay Beach. For this reason the foundation suggests the island have a dog shelter for those strays that are unfed and that contaminate the cleanliness of our beaches.”

The Nature Foundation contends that the situation is “not only detrimental to the health of St. Maarteners, but also to maintaining the positive connotation of Simpson Bay Beach for tourists.”

Most at risk are children, sunbathers and workers.

The Nature Foundation says that preventive measures include wearing shoes or sandals to keep hookworms from penetrating feet, sitting on two or more beach towels (sitting on a beach chair is even better), and staying away from moist, shady and sandy areas because these are the most likely places for the parasites to gather.

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