With high numbers of persons expected at the seaside this summer, the Ministry of Health has advised the public to take precautions when on the beach, as there is potential for them to be infected by the beach worm disease (cutaneous larval migrans).

According to the head of the Animal Control Unit, Curtis Thompson, individuals become infected by the beach worm when bare skin is exposed to the larva.

He explained: "Infected dogs shed eggs in their faeces which hatch within 48 to 72 hours in warm, moist soil or sand including at the beach.?? Progression to the second stage (larva) occurs within a week.

The contact of feet and other parts of the body with sand or soil are two known ways of contracting the larva. Individuals should consider the use of appropriate foot wear and spreading beach towels on the sand.

The Animal Control Officer pointed out that intense itching and a rash at the site where the skin touched the sand or soil are usually the first signs of infection, along with raised snake-like tracks that may spread.????

??"The best single method of preventing the larva is through de-worming of the family dog. This should be seen as a priority both from an environmental health standpoint and the health/welfare of the infected animal," Mr. Thompson stressed. jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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