Parasitic worms affecting Beach-goers

Nature Foundation Recommends Beach Goers Clean Up After Dogs. Calls for a Shelter for Strays

Recently, there have been numerous complaints of parasitic infections that affect beach-goers. The St. Maarten Nature Foundation has been informed that it has progressed to the extent that a few people have had to visit the hospital in order to extract these worms. A type of worm enters the body from the bottom of the foot and most likely originates from dog or other animal feces. This infection presents red, raised, itchy irritation of the skin in track-like patterns that may migrate day-to-day as the parasite travels beneath the skin’s surface. According to an article from Discovery Communications, hookworm eggs found in animal feces hatch and form the larvae that cause cutaneous larva migrans (CLM). "The larvae live in warm, moist, sandy soil and are determined, sturdy parasites that can penetrate human skin, even through something as seemingly protective as a beach towel." (Discovery Health)

Simpson Bay beach is where the majority of these illnesses have occurred. St. Maarten Nature Foundation strongly recommends pet-owners to clean up after their dogs or cats and ensure that there are no exposed feces left on the shores of the beach.

Unfortunately, due to the great number of stray dogs and cats on the island, it is impossible that every animal is picked up after on Simpson Bay beach. For this reason, the Foundation suggests the island have a dog shelter for those strays that are first, unfed, and second, that contaminate the cleanliness of our beaches.

This problem is not only detrimental to the health of the St. Maarteners, but further to maintaining the positive connotations of Simpson Bay beach for tourists. This issue must be targeted to prevent further issues and threats to the health of our beach-goers. More importantly, those who are most at risk are children, sunbathers, or workers; it is therefore key to ensure the least exposure to feces possible for these people.

Preventative measures from contracting the parasite include, wearing shoes or sandals to keep hookworm larvae from penetrating into feet, sit on two or more beach towels, or, better yet, a lounge chair, and lastly, stay away from moist, shady, sandy areas because they are the most likely places for parasites to gather. (Discovery Health)