A young couple for Canada, Katie Stephens and Eddie Zytner, returned from a beautiful Caribbean vacation not so long ago. After the return the couple found that they both had very itchy feet.
Neither of the two doctors they went to could identify the problem with their feet. Finally, the third doctor they visited managed to figure out the problem. They both had parasitic hookworms called cutaneous larva migrans.
Once the couple found out their problem, they turned to Facebook to warn others about the parasites that hide in the beach.
Here’s what Katie wrote in her post:
To anybody traveling somewhere tropical, please be careful when in the sand and wear shoes! My boyfriend and I recently got back from Punta Cana to discover that we both have larva migrans, in other terms worms in our feet.
If your feet become incredibly itchy please get it checked out right away since we simply thought it was just bug bites and it became worse as each day passed.
She started by a short warning. She continues :
The resort we stayed at was IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa. Also, this injury has nothing to do with coverage or travel insurance, I was back in my home country when I was first treated and don’t need travel coverage for what I have.
Also, to top it off health Canada denied our request to receive the medicine (ivermectin) we needed to treat our infection and were forced to get medicine from the states. Thank you Canada for your lovely health care you provide for us!
Her post was shared over 53,000 times in less than a week of her posting. People were absolutely terrified at what they were seeing.
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, “Cutaneous larva migrans, also known as creeping eruption or larva migrans, is a term used to describe twisting linear skin lesions caused by the burrowing of larvae. People who are exposed to soil and sand are most likely to be infected. The feet, hands, buttocks, and genitalia are most commonly affected. These lesions may itch, sting and eventually cause pain.”
Eddie also shared his version of the events on Facebook. Here’s what he wrote:
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.
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.
According to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, the best way to avoid cutaneous larva migrans while on the beach is to wear shoes while walking in sandy areas.
So, if you plan to spend time on the beach try to avoid areas of dry sand. Instead, sit on areas where the tide has washed up recently.
Do you have any similar experiences? Please share on the comments below!