Young Couple Shares Warning After Returning From Caribbean Vacation With Parasitic Hookworms

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is the Senior Editor of Branded Content at Wild Sky Media. She grew up in upstate New York and Oregon and now lives in Queens, NY. Ileana graduated from Skidmore College with a degree in sociology. After graduating, she attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, then worked as in marketing at Oxford University Press. Since transitioning to editorial, she has written for BuzzFeed, HuffPost, and Woman's World. She has also worked for local newspapers and magazines in upstate New York. In her free time, you can find Ileana watching Law & Order: SVU, eating ice cream, and spending time with her dog.

A young Canadian couple, Katie Stephens and Eddie Zytner, recently returned from a relaxing Caribbean vacation to find that they both had very itchy feet.

They went to two different doctors, but neither was able to diagnose them. Finally, a third doctor figured out what was wrong: They both had parasitic hookworms called cutaneous larva migrans.

Once Katie and Eddie were diagnosed, they turned to Facebook to warn others about the dangers lurking on the beach.

Katie wrote:

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.

Some readers may find the following photos emotionally upsetting. If you do not wish to see evidence of parasites, please click back to the LittleThings homepage.

Photos: Facebook 1, 2 / Katie Stephens

[H/T: Daily Mail]

katie beach

Katie continued:

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. 

beach umbrella

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!

Katie’s post was shared over 53,000 times in less than a week.

It also racked up over 10,000 reactions. People were absolutely shocked by what Katie had shared.

katie right foot

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.

sandy feet

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 facebook

Eddie also shared his version of the events on Facebook, writing:

*Larva Migrans from Punta Cana*
(Warning: photos may be disturbing)

I feel obligated to make this post for anyone travelling to the Caribbean. 

beach sunset

My girlfriend and I returned from the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort in Punta Cana last week to find our feet very itchy.

CLICK TO REVEAL right foot parasites

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.

CLICK TO REVEAL eddie left foot

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.

CLICK TO REVEAL parasite foot

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.

CLICK TO REVEAL sole of foot

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 katie piggyback

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.

caribbean beach

If you’re going to spend time lying on the beach, make sure to avoid areas of dry sand.

Instead, sit on sand recently washed by the tide.

eddie katie

Please SHARE this article to spread awareness about parasitic hookworms!