Canadian couple gets hookworms on vacation, has to go to US for medicine

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WINDSOR, Canada (WCMH) – A Canadian couple says they came home from vacation with parasites in their feet after walking barefoot in the sand.

Eddie Zytner and Katie Stephens took a trip to the Dominican Republic earlier this month. CTV News reported they noticed their feet were itchy during their stay, but they assumed they had just received some bug bites.

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

The day after they returned home, Zytner said he noticed his feet swelling. Before long, there were small bumps on his toes. On the 21st, Stephens’ feet also began to swell.

“I started to freak out,” Stephens told the Windsor Star.

After repeated visits to the doctor, they were diagnosed with a hookworm infection.

To anybody travelling somewhere tropical, please be careful when in the sand and wear shoes! My boyfriend and I recently…

Posted by Katie Stephens on Tuesday, January 23, 2018

As it turns out, the medications used to treat hookworms, ivermectin and albendazole, are not available for sale in Canada without government approval on a case-by-case basis. Their request for the medication was denied.

“They said our case wasn’t severe enough to get the medication,” Zytner told the Star. “I don’t know how much worse it has to be for them to approve it. People have passed away from (parasitic infections).”

In the end, a doctor with a dual-nation license wrote a prescription that allowed them to pick up the medication in the U.S. As they recover from the infection, Stephens wrote about her experience on Facebook. The post has gone viral with more than 60,000 shares.

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