Couple contracts parasitic hookworms during Punta Cana vacation

Beach goers beware.

After contracting parasitic hookworms during a trip to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, a Canadian couple is sending a warning to those planning to jet to warmer climates, CTV News reported.

Katie Stephens and Eddie Zytner noticed their feet were unusually itchy upon returning home from a week's vacation at the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort in early January.

The pair initially brushed it off as bug bites, though.

Photos of the "bites": 

Couple contract parasitic hookworms during Punta Cana vacation
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Couple contract parasitic hookworms during Punta Cana vacation

"For a lot of our trip, we found that we were scratching our feet quite a bit," Zytner told the outlet.

"Sand fleas we had heard about so we kind of assumed it was that at first."

On Jan. 19, Zytner noticed his feet had begun to swell. By that weekend, the swelling had gotten worse and small bumps developed on his toes.

The 25-year-old went to the hospital, where two doctors were completely baffled by his symptoms, according to CTV News.

He was sent home in bandages with no answers.

By Sunday, Stephens' feet also began to swell.

"I had a lot of itchiness during the trip," she told the publication.

"I think I might have complained about it a little bit more that my feet were itchy, but mine didn't start swelling and everything until about the Sunday night."

Zytner and Stephens, 22, went to the hospital four days after their vacation ended and finally received a diagnosis.

The doctor who examined them had recently treated a similar such case in a tourist returning from a trip to Thailand, CTV News reported.

The couple contracted larva migrans, also known as hookworms, which are parasites that can enter the skin when they come in contact with an infected surface.

Zytner and Stephens believe they contracted the parasites while walking barefoot on the beach during the vacation.

They were prescribed a drug called Ivermectin, Stephens told CTV News. Their doctor had to send a request to Health Canada for the medication as it's not licensed in Canada.

Stephens said she and her beau were initially expecting to receive the drugs this week, but things changed.

"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," she said.

Zytner and Stephens weren't ready to give up without a fight, however.

Photo: Facebook

According to CTV News, Zytner's mother drove to Detroit to pick up the medication.

Zytner and Stephens took the medication for two days.

They're both using crutched to walk around, but are on the road to recovery, according to the outlet.

The couple is visiting a specialist in the coming weeks to address skin damage on their feet.

Zytner and Stephens took to Facebook to share their harrowing tale and raise awareness about the dangers of parasites for both doctors and vacationers.

The pair urged anyone who experiences itchy feet while travelling to "get it checked out right away since we simply thought it was just bug bites."

They also were clear that their ailment has nothing to do with the resort at which they stayed or the country they visited.

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