Are you planning a trip to the beaches in the Caribbean anytime soon? If you are, you may want to rethink your travel plans. There’s a horrific type of seaweed showing up on the sandy beaches that can affect your heart and induce rashes and headaches. That’s right. This toxic seaweed emits gases that cause heart palpitations in people and make them suffer debilitating headaches – and the amount of people affected by the seaweed is staggering.
Just last year, 11,000 people were left ill on just two Caribbean islands. That number is expected to skyrocket as more instances of this toxic seaweed continue to appear on the beaches.
Researchers are taking this rise in toxic seaweed as a real threat. It’s called sargassum seaweed, and these researchers claim it has become a public health crisis. The seaweed consists of brown leaves that wash out of the ocean and onto the highly-trafficked beaches of the Caribbean and South America. When the seaweed gets exposed to the air, it gives off hydrogen sulfide gas that can make people experience worrying symptoms, including dizziness and feelings of overall dis-ease. You can also suffer memory loss if you breathe the gases emitted by the brown seaweed.
Tourists probably won’t realize that they’re experiencing these symptoms because of the seaweed. They’ll think it is something else, and therefore, the true cause might go undiagnosed for a while. That’s because the sargassum weed is very common.
In just eight months, 11,000 people fell ill from the toxic seaweed on the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique last year.
“This really is an issue that continues to fly under the radar of most medical professionals,” Dr. Andrea Boggild from the Toronto General Hospital in Canada told Reuters.
Past research has found that the gases from this seaweed can prove deadly. Because it can result in breathing complications, people might not be able to get enough oxygen to keep their bodies alive if they’re breathing in too much of the hydrogen sulfide gas.
Dr. Boggild and her team found that larger and larger amounts of sargassum seaweed are washing up on shore since 2011. Record amounts of the toxic weed appeared last year.
There is a massive 550-km long bloom of the toxic seaweed drifting toward Mexico right now. The seaweed mass is the largest one on record and is heavier than 200 fully-loaded aircraft carriers.
The Yellow Sea, which is off the coast of China, also has the seaweed. There, it is called “golden tide.”
Harvard University’s Dr. Mary Elizabeth Wilson said, “If the rafts of sargassum continue, and there is no expectation that they will not, it is likely that medical practitioners will increasingly encounter returning travelers with a range of associated symptoms.”
Not only does it produce the dangerous gas, but sargassum can also cause problems if it touches the skin for a prolonged period of time.
The seaweed was recently found littering a tourist beach in Cancun, Mexico.
What do you think about this toxic seaweed poisoning people on vacation in the Caribbean?
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