Tropical paradise parasite: Travellers contract hookworm on beach vacation
Published Thursday, November 22, 2018 6:00AM PST
Walking barefoot on the beach is something many travellers do while on a tropical vacation, but a parasite lurking in the sand could make your life miserable.
A group of three vacationers who just came back from a girl’s trip to Jamaica returned with more than memories and photos. They also caught a painful case of hookworm.
“I developed major skin irritations and basically there was larvae in our feet,” explained Tara Benedek.
They picked up the painful parasite after walking barefoot on the beach.
The infection is transmitted primarily by walking barefoot on contaminated soil or sand. Usually the contamination comes from the feces of dogs or cats, which run loose in many southern vacation hotspots.
"You can see the track marks of the worms in your feet and it's the most horrible, horrible experience ever,” said Brigitte May.
Signs of hookworm include itching, a rash, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss and fatigue. The women all developed painful blisters, and suffered an emotional toll as well.
Hookworm can often be misdiagnosed and treatment usually includes antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs. Once the treatment has started, the infection should go away.
The group is now getting proper treatment, but they say they've learned a valuable lesson.
"What I would recommend is to wear sandals or shoes on the beach at all times especially if you see stray animals around the beach," said Benedek.
And it's not just shoes and sandals when walking on the beach. Take cautions when sitting on towels or blankets on the sand and make sure to wash your skin with soap and water after touching it.