Couple contract parasitic hookworm in feet after walking on Punta Cana beach

A Canadian couple said they contracted parasitic hookworms in their feet after walking barefoot on a Dominican Republic beach. 

Katie Stephens, 22, and her boyfriend Eddie Zytner, 25, of Windsor, Ontario, told CTV that they had scratchy feet during a week-long stay at the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort in Punta Cana, but believed they just had minor bug bites. 

“For a lot of our trip, we found that we were scratching our feet quite a bit,” Zytner told CTVNews. “Sand fleas we had heard about so we kind of assumed it was that at first.”

Several days after returning home, they quickly realized it was something worse. 

Two doctors were unable to identify what was causing the couples' swelling and blisters, but a third recognized the condition, the couple told CTV. 

Stephens and Zytner were diagnosed with larva migrans, or hookworms. Stephens said in a Facebook post that the couple were prescribed ivermectin, which is used to treat parasites, but the medication is not licensed in Canada, so their coverage request was denied. 

"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," she said. 

Stephens urged people to think twice before walking on the beach barefoot and look out for sites of hookworms. 

"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," Stephens said in the Facebook post. 

© 2018 WFAA-TV


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