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Beware the BATUS Cactus – Cactus Dermatitis in Exercising Soldiers on the Albertan Prairie
  1. Capt John Whitaker, GDMO, General Duties Medical Officer1 and
  2. KG Bailey, Senior Medical Officer2
  1. 11 Med Regt, York Bks, Munster, Germany, BFPO 17
  2. 2Medical Centre, British Army Training Unit Suffield, Alberta, Canada, BFPO 14


Species of the Opuntia or prickly pear genus of cacti are endemic to the British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) training area in Alberta, Canada. They are known to provoke a dermatitis reaction in harvesters of the cacti fruit. It’s spines are frequently an uncomfortable nuisance to unwary soldiers exercising in BATUS. We report two cases of particularly debilitating adverse skin reactions to the cacti spines that occurred during the 2010 Exercise Prairie Thunder season.

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