Thursday 19 April 2018

'It’s eating him from the inside out' - Mother's horror at flesh-eating canal bug

Eamon Hafdallah (15) who contracted a flesh eating bug as a result of swimming Grand Canal.
Eamon Hafdallah (15) who contracted a flesh eating bug as a result of swimming Grand Canal.

Clodagh Sheehy

A MOTHER has told of her horror after her teenage son picked up what she called a flesh-eating bug after swimming in Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock.

Rachel Sneddon said a gaping wound developed in 15-year-old Eamon’s back after he took a dip.

The hole, about the size of a €2 coin, appeared last Saturday night, and within three days a second similar one had opened beside it.

“They told me Eamon got the bug from swimming in the dirty water in the Grand Canal Dock,” said Ms Sneddon, from Ringsend.


“It’s eating him from the inside out. They couldn’t stitch it up because they don’t know what they’re dealing with.”

Dozens of young children and teenagers have taken to the city’s waterways to cool off in the hot weather.

Mother-of-one Ms Sneddon said Eamon loves the water and had been swimming in the dock on Friday night.

He noticed a lump on his back on Saturday.

“It was red and lumpy above his hip, like a hard lump, so I put a light plaster on it,” she said.

By Saturday night the lump had burst.

“There was all this black stuff coming out of it so I took him to Temple Street Hospital’s emergency department,” said Ms Sneddon.

Hospital staff cleaned the wound and dressed it and told them to return on Monday for another dressing.

However, by Tuesday night a second hole had appeared beside the first one.

Eamon hhas been put on a course of strong anti-biotics and told to visit hospital every second day to have his wounds dressed.

The dock area is visible from the window of the family’s nearby apartment.

Ms Sneddon told the Herald: “Hundreds of them go swimming there every day from May onwards. They’ve been doing it for years.

“Apparently there’s a notice not to swim there, but I never heard of it.”

Eamon said he normally swims in the dock every day during the summer and wears a wet suit “to protect against disease and bugs”.

The secondary student, who has just completed his Junior Cert, said he became ill once before from the dock water.

“I got an ear infection last year, but I thought that was just a once-off thing,” he said.

Now the soccer-mad teenager, who follows Liverpool, has been banned from the water and from all sports for the rest of the summer.

“I can’t play soccer or any sport. I can’t go near the water or swim,” he said.

“I’ll just have to walk around all day or sleep.”


Ms Sneddon said that publicising her son’s infection has put many of children off swimming in the dock, despite the good weather.

Yesterday, however, there was still a handful of teenagers happily diving into the dark green water beside a lock leading to the Liffey.

The teenagers, wearing wetsuits, socks and runners, showed no concern about the risk of infection or the fact that they were diving in directly under a no-swimming sign.

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