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Bathing water quality
Sanitary control organisation
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Water and health

What are the dangers of bathing and related activities?


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Beware of venomous animals

published on 04/16/2008
Sea envenomation is rare provided that bathers behave appropriately in and below the water. In the waters along mainland France, few venomous species can be found. Some species may, however, be responsible for envenomation. In contrast, tropical waters are home to a far larger number of venomous species, which are often much more dangerous than the mainland species. If you bathe in any of France’s overseas departments (Guyana, Reunion, Guadeloupe and Martinique), take greater care!
Envenomation risk applies mainly when bathing in the sea (there are very few venomous species in freshwater). Most frequently, envenomation occurs through a sting (weever fish, rockfish, stingray) but can also result from a bite (moray eel) or mere contact with rash-inducing species like jellyfish.
Recommendations for preventing envenomation or treating accidental envenomation:
  • Wear sandals and protective clothing; heed the basic safety instructions when observing underwater fauna and flora if you are a deep-sea diving enthusiast, as this is where the venomous species can be found. In the overseas departments, in particular, ask about the local fauna and its potential hazards before entering the water.
  • Beware of jellyfish that wash upon the beach: even when they are dead and out of the water, their venom can remain active for several hours!
  • Carefully clean and disinfect any wounds. The use of antibiotics is recommended. The physician may also advise you to check that you have been given the tetanus vaccine, and repeat it if necessary.
  • Apply heat to the affected part of the body, as the venom of many species is heat-sensitive.
  • Apply an anti-inflammatory cream locally.
  • If symptoms persist or worsen, do not hesitate to seek medical advice.