The beach worm (cutaneous larval migran), a parasite found in dog faeces, is on the increase in Barbados. This is the warning from Government’s Animal Control Centre.

As a result, Animal Control Officer, Curtis Thompson is making a plea for dog owners to "make sure they scoop their dog’s poop" in public places.

Explaining that individuals become infected when bare skin is exposed to the larva, Mr. Thompson said: "Infected dogs shed eggs in the faeces which hatch within 48 to 72 hours in warm, moist soil, developing to the infective second stage (larva) within a week."

He added: "Children and adults walking around bare-foot, particularly on the beach where dogs might have defecated, and bodies come in to contact with that same sand while lying on the beach, are two known ways of contracting the larva."

The health official noted that beach worm in a person was identified by tortuous superficial tunnels (like a termite trail found around a building) in areas of the skin that were exposed to sand or soil frequented by dogs, coupled with reddish papules (ruptures with pus) at the invasion site. This, he explained, cause intense itching and scratching of the areas.

"The best single method of preventing the spread of the larva is through de-worming of the family pet, and this should be seen as a priority both from an environmental health standpoint and the health/welfare of the infected animal," he emphasised.

Owners walking or exercising their dogs on beaches, in pathways, lanes or on public roads must ???scoop the poop’ and dispose of it to the satisfaction of the Medical Officer of Health.

According to Mr. Thompson, this does not mean simply covering up the faeces with sand, if it happens on the beach; as it is unsanitary and inevitably the ebb and flow of the tide washes away the sand and unsuspecting persons either playing or lying on the beach may come in contact with dog faeces."

Dog owners are advised to carry a plastic bag and a small scoop to remove all faeces from pavements, walkways, public roads, beaches and lawns. If faeces is deposited on the sand or beach this should be removed and buried at least four to six feet deep. ??Where it is found in other places, it should be secured in a plastic bag and disposed of in a garbage bin.

This information is contained in the Dog Licensing and Control Regulations 1982 at Section 12 (2) (3) Part 3 (Control of Dogs in Public Places) and any person who contravenes or fails without reasonable excuse to comply with this section is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of $250.00 or to imprisonment for a term of three months, or both.

Members of the public are also reminded that beach rangers from the National Conservation Commission (NCC), police and environmental health officers are authorised to enforce the legislation and should therefore be given the necessary support.

While the Animal Control Unit will continue to remove all stray dogs from public places, the issue of stray dogs defecating on the beach will be addressed through the assistance of the NCC and the Sanitation Service Authority.

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