Top 10 Dangerous Diseases Lurking At The Beach

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7. Cercarial Dermatitis

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Cercarial dermatitis is more commonly known as swimmer’s itch. Exposure to trematode parasite larvae can cause a patchy skin rash on the infected area. You will normally notice the rash within 48 hours of exposure, and it may stick around for up to seven days.

The parasites usually infect snails and then work their way to birds, but humans are occasionally infected in the process. The rash can usually be treated with an antihistamine. Corticosteroid cream may also provide some relief.[4]

6. Flesh-Eating Bacteria

You’ve probably heard about flesh-eating bacteria being found at the beach over the past few years, but the chance of becoming infected is quite low. According to the CDC, the US averages 95 cases of Vibrio vulnificus infection per year that lead to 85 hospitalizations and 35 deaths. Half of those cases come from waters across the Gulf of Mexico.

The bacteria, which can enter a swimmer’s body through open wounds, causes the skin to break down and ulcerate. Raw oysters can also harbor the microbe, which triggers abdominal pains, diarrhea, and nausea for those affected.

Antibiotics typically improve a patient’s chances for recovery, but amputation may be required. The best way to avoid flesh-eating bacteria is to stay away from the water with open wounds and be careful of the shellfish you eat.[5]

5. Hookworms

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We love digging our toes into the sand while vacationing at the beach, but that may be a good way to come into contact with hookworms. This parasite can be acquired by walking barefoot on ground that has been contaminated with human feces or by ingesting hookworm eggs.

The eggs spread anywhere that water moves the soil, making the beach the perfect location to find them. These eggs eventually grow into small larvae and try to latch onto animal skin.

If you have hookworms, possible symptoms include an itchy rash, abdominal pain, nausea, weight loss, and diarrhea. Hookworms can easily be prevented by wearing sandals on the beach, sitting on towels when on the ground, and keeping your body washed with soap and water after touching soil and sand.

If you encounter the parasite, pills such as albendazole or mebendazole should clear up the problem.[6]


The warm waters and high human traffic make beaches a breeding ground for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, better known as MRSA. A staph infection begins as a tiny bump resembling a pimple, but it can transform into a large abscess.

At this point, it grows deep into the body and is a risk to bones and organs. In severe cases, it can turn into pneumonia or other forms of respiratory distress. Minor skin infections are usually treated with antibiotic ointments, but more severe cases require surgery.

Swimmers in subtropical ocean waters have about a 37 percent chance of coming in contact with a form of staph. In 2012, a survey showed that 1.6 percent of their seawater samples and 2.7 percent of their sand samples contained MRSA. Staph consumes salt as a key nutrient, which is why it survives in marine water longer than freshwater beaches.[7]

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