A Canadian couple has warned others against walking barefoot on the beach. They contracted hookworms after walking without sandals on the sands of a Dominican Republic resort.
Eddie Zytner and Katie Stephens first experienced itchiness on their feet during their week-long vacation at the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort in Punta Cana. Initially, they thought it was caused by sand fleas.
However, when they got back from the trip, their feet began to swell.
After a few days, the swelling became worse, and small bumps appeared on their toes.
Eddie Zytner said in his Facebook post:
“I feel obligated to make this post for anyone traveling to the Caribbean.”
“My girlfriend and I returned from the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort in Punta Cana last week to find our feet very itchy. On Saturday (20th of January) my feet were itchy and swollen, so I went to the hospital.”
“At first, they thought it was sand fleas, wrapped me up, told me to come back for a checkup tomorrow and sent me on my way.”
Zytner recalled that the first doctors who saw him didn't know what had caused the blisters and inflammation.
Fortunately, they were seen by a doctor, who encountered a similar case ten years ago. He said that a tourist who had returned home from a trip to Thailand had the same case.
The couple apparently contracted larva migrans, which are commonly known as hookworms. These parasites enter the skin, mainly from the soles of the feet, when touching infected and contaminated soil or sand.
The couple believes they contracted the parasite when they walked barefoot on the beach.
Cases of larva migrans are reported in travelers visiting Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and South America. The usual sources of infection are feces-infected sand in beaches where domestic animals may roam.
The couple said they were alarmed to know that they had hookworms in their feet since there are many cases of people dying from parasitic infections. Even though the disease is usually self-limiting, the complications involve an allergic reaction and infection.
Now, they are warning others and sharing their story so that doctors would know the condition when they encounter similar cases.
“We want to make it known to more doctors what it is, what to look for and stuff because it took us a few trips to the hospital to find out what it was.”
A similar case happened in the Caribbean, too. A couple had parasites buried in their bums when they sat on the beach.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises those who visit beaches to reduce contact with contaminated soil by using shoes and protective clothing. When sitting on the ground, use a towel or other barriers.