A young Canadian couple arrived home in late January after having gone on a trip to Punta Cana, Dominic Republic. Now, since Thursday, it’s warning people and advising them not to walk without shoes in the sand when they are at the beach. According to both, they caught a bacteria in their feet, but only realized once they left the Caribbean country.

The young couple decided to travel to the tourism capital of Dominic Republic: Punta Cana. They stayed at the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort and Spa, located only 6-minutes-walking from the beach – as CVT News first informed Friday.

It seemed that everything was going according to the plan: the sun was on point, the heat was good, and the water colored in a beautiful blue-tone. However, almost at the end of the journey, both of them started to feel their feet itchy.

At the beach, Katie Stephens, 22, of Ontario, noticed that both she and her 25-year-old boyfriend, Eddie Zytner, were scratching their feet “quite a bit.” When they returned to their room, they continued having itchy feet, which impressed the two of them.

As she told the news station, she had heard about sand fleas, so she “kind of assumed it was that at first.”

Canadian couple gets hookworms after walking barefoot in a Punta Cana beach, Dominican Republic, Hookworms in the beach, Couple gets hookworms in Punta Cana beach
Eddie Zytner, 25, and Katie Stephens, 22. Image credit: Facebook

The majority of the symptoms began when they left Punta Cana. On Jan. 19, just a day after the couple returned to Canada, Zytner noted that his feet were starting to swell. Impressed, he thought it could be nothing, so he decided to wait a bit and give it a chance. But by the beginning of the weekend, the swelling had worsened, and little bumps had appeared all over his toes.

Zytner said he went right away to two different doctors after having seen how bad his feet were. However, none of them knew what was creating nor the swelling, nor the bumps, so they only sent him to his home with bandages.

At the end of Sunday, Stephens said she started to see her feet swollen. And although the bumps didn’t show instantaneity, she also began noticing them in the following days.

“I had a lot of itchiness during the trip,” 22-year-old Katie Stephens told the news station. “I think I might have complained about it a little bit more that my feet were really itchy, but mine didn’t start swelling and everything until about the Sunday night.”

The searching for the solution continued. And at the fourth day after having returned from the Punta Cana resort, they went to consult a third doctor who told them what was happening to them. Unfortunately, unlike to what they first believed, the reason why they started having itchy and swollen feet wasn’t sea fleas, at all.

Hookworms in their feet

This third doctor could identify what was affecting the Canadian couple. As he told them, he had received a similar case from a person who recently had traveled to Thailand.

Both Stephens and Zytner had caught larva migrans, which are commonly known as hookworms. These parasites can enter the skin if they find a part of the surface that’s opened or infected.

As the couple said, they believed they had contracted the hookworms when they were walking barefoot by the beach of the resort.

Canadian couple gets hookworms after walking barefoot in a Punta Cana beach, Dominican Republic, Hookworms in the beach, Couple gets hookworms in Punta Cana beach
The couple said they could have caught the parasites while walking barefoot at the Punta Cana resort’s beach. Image credit: Facebook

Stephens said that the doctor told them they could take a drug called ivermectin – which was a problem after having realized that the medication was not licensed in Canada.

To have permission, the doctor sent Health Canada a request for the medicine. He included the history of the couple, and photos of their feet showing they swelling and the bumps.

Stephens believed that they could receive the drug by the end of this week. However, the news they got on Tuesday was not as they expected.

“We found out that Health Canada had denied our request to receive the medication saying our case wasn’t severe enough. At that point, that’s when we freaked out a little,” Stephens said.

In the search for the medicine

Not accepting the defeat, the mother of Zytner crossed the frontiers and drove from Ontario to Detroit, Michigan, to buy the medication. She paid CAD$88 and returned to deliver it to her son and his girlfriend.

After having received it, they said they took it for two days. Fortunately, they started noticing that the medication was making well to them, although they still had to use crutches to walk around.

Canadian couple gets hookworms after walking barefoot in a Punta Cana's beach, Dominican Republic, Hookworms in the beach, Couple gets hookworms in Punta Cana beach
The couple is now recovering thanks to the medicine Zytner’s mother got them. Image credit: Windsor Star

Zytner said that his feet were feeling and looking better than the day before he gave the interview. Then, he added that he still had to change the bandages again, and considered it was “another chance” to look how their feet were “progressing.”

The couple also commented that they planned to visit a specialist to see how they could treat the damage they had on their feet.

“We want to make it known to more doctors what it is, what to look for and stuff because it took us a few trips to the hospital to find out what it was,” Zytner said.

To inform their friends and any other person who wants to travel or go to the beach, the couple uploaded photos on their Facebook profiles showing what the parasite made to their feet.

Source: CTV News