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Poisonous fish stings top list of Algarve beachgoers’ health issues

Algarve’s beach health units were kept busy in July, providing 3,553 medical consultations to beachgoers – a large number of which due to weever fish stings and insect bites (1,292).

The number is significant, especially when compared to last July when these stings and bites only accounted for 546 consultations.

The increase in weever fish stings could be explained by the warm sea temperatures the Algarve has enjoyed this summer. While it may be very enjoyable for beachgoers, these types of poisonous fish are also known to like warmer water and bury themselves under the sand near beaches, where they are often stepped on by unwary swimmers.

The fish possess venomous spines along their back, and the sting is known to be painful.

As britishseafishing.co.uk explains, “the best course of action after being stung is to place the injured body part into very hot water (as hot as the victim can stand without scalding) as the poison is protein based and is destroyed by heat.”

Apart from the stings and bites, the most common consultations were for basic treatments such as stitches (1,497), followed by blood pressure tests (477), administration of vaccines (128) and blood sugar tests (116).

Out of the total, 43 people were transferred to other health centres to deal with more serious issues.

Most patients were non-locals (73.7%), with 78.7% of the outsiders being Portuguese and the other 21.3% foreigners.

Further data revealed by the Algarve’s health authority (ARS) shows that the beach units in Monte Gordo, Manta Rota, Armação de Pêra, Praia dos Tomates and Ilha da Armona were the busiest.

The Algarve’s 32 beach health units are open between 10.30am and 7.30pm and will remain so until September 18.

michael.bruxo@algarveresident.com