A couple who enjoyed a blissful holiday in the Caribbean were horrified when they found parasites burrowing into their feet after they got back.
Eddie Zytner and Katie Stephens spent a week relaxing at the IFA Villas Bavaro All-Inclusive Resort and Spa on Playa Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
The couple walked barefoot on the beaches from the very first day of their breaks and experienced some irritation during the trip.
However, it was when they retuned home that the irritation became far worse – and the horrified couple discovered worms burrowing into their feet.
Eddie, from Windsor, Canada, wrote in a Facebook post:
I feel obligated to make this post for anyone travelling 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 the 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 check up tomorrow and sent me on my way.
On Sunday my feet had worsened with more swelling and now blisters. But still the doctor, a different one from Saturday, was not certain what it was.
When I went back to the hospital Monday we were very, very fortunate the doctor in the ER had seen this before – 10 years ago and from a tourist returning from Thailand.
Tuesday, the condition had reached extreme levels. And thankfully my girlfriend and I were able to begin our treatment and are on the path back to being healthy.
I wanted to make this post because most doctors have never seen Larva Migrans before. 3 out of the 4 doctors we saw have never heard of this hookworm. And if your feet begin to have an itch, swell or blister or look like mine, get those hooves checked out! It may not be what your doctor thinks. All this just from walking barefoot on the beach. So, anyone travelling.. check with your resort and see if the beaches around you are cleaned regularly. And it’s best to wear shoes on the beach as much as possible!
The treatment is Ivermectin and Antibiotics.
Eddie, 25, also told the Windsor Star: “I have dozens of worms in my feet, and so does Katie. It’s kind of sickening to think about.”
Katie, 22, added: “It’s pretty gross. It’s something living in your body that’s not supposed to be there.”
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The horrified couple say they are suffering from cutaneous larva migrans – better known as hookworms.
The disease is usually contracted in tropical environments when someone walks barefoot in sand and nematode larvae enter their hosts through the skin.
Eddie and Katie are now recovering from their swollen and blistered feet using medication that is unlicensed in Canada and only obtainable on a case-by-case basis.
However, the couple still need crutches to move around and have been told that the skin damage may take months to fully heal.
Symptoms and advice
According to the NHS website, most people infected with hookworm don’t have any symptoms.
It says the larvae of animal hookworms can get under the skin but is unable to go further into the body. Instead it creates a slowly moving red line on the skin.
Between 576 million and 740 million people are thought to be infected with hookworm and they normally don’t cause any harm.
The NHS states:
If you’re travelling to a tropical or sub-tropical region of the world where hookworm infections are common, avoid walking barefoot in areas where there may be contaminated soil, and don’t touch soil or sand with your bare hands.
Severe infections may cause abdominal (tummy) pain, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue and anaemia. Blood loss leading to iron deficiency anaemia and protein loss are the most serious symptoms.