‘It’s the most horrible experience’: Ontario women pick up parasite from beach
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, November 1, 2018 8:31PM EDT
Many Canadians will head south during the coming winter months and walk barefoot along a warm, sandy beach -- but three women from Ontario are warning about a painful parasite that can be picked up by doing so.
Two weeks ago, the trio travelled to Negril, Jamaica to get away from the dreary weather.
When they returned home, they developed blisters and swollen, itchy skin.
The women realized they had contracted hookworm, a painful parasite they picked up from walking barefoot on a beach at their resort.
“Basically, there are larvae, worms in our feet,” Tara Benedek told CTV News Toronto.
“You can see the track marks of the worms in your feet,” Brigitte May said. “It’s the most horrible, horrible experience ever.”
Hookworm is transmitted primarily by walking barefoot on contaminated soil or sand. The contamination can be caused by feces left by dogs or cats that run loose in many vacation spots.
Other symptoms of hookworm include abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and fatigue. Some people infected by the parasite also develop rashes.
The women were able to seek treatment at the Tropical Disease Unit at Toronto General Hospital.
“They were the only ones that were able to see us, know exactly what it is, and provide the medication right away,” Karin Weatherbie said.
They say they will not be walking barefoot in the sand any time soon.
“What I would recommend for anybody going forward, and I wish that I knew, is to wear water shoes on the beach, sandals, something to cover your feet at all times, especially if you see stray animals around the beach,” Benedek said.
“I’m already Googling water shoes for my next trip.”
-With files from CTV News Toronto's Pat Foran