One UK couple discovered they had brought home a nasty holiday souvenir no one wants: parasitic worms.
The unnamed husband and wife were left with a nasty burning, red rash on their buttocks after sunbathing on a beach in the Caribbean while on a cruise.
The wife, 52, initially noticed an ‘initial burning sensation’ after their trip to the island of Martinique and the next day woke up to find her backside was covered by an ‘eruption’ of red pinprick marks.
Her husband developed similar symptoms 10 days later.
Doctors diagnosed the pair with a parasitic infection known as cutaneous larva migrans.
But the source of it was extremely rare: it came from a kind of worm species that normally only infect dogs or cats.
Both also developed pneumonitis – inflammation of the lungs – which doctors said could have been caused by the hookworms infiltrating their lungs.
Shortness of breath
When the woman first noticed the rash, a doctor on the cruise ship prescribed her antibiotics, as well as antifungal treatments and steroid creams – but nothing seemed to work.
Ten days later, the rash had spread further, when her husband also noticed he was affected, according to BMJ Case Reports.
Medics led by Dr. Douglas Maslin at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge wrote: ‘The patient’s husband was noted to be itching and examination revealed a rash with equivalent distribution and morphology.’
Both pairs were given medication used to treat parasitic infections, including head lice and scabies.
Five days later the wife was rushed to A&E with shortness of breath and a chest infection, and later her husband developed the same symptoms.
After another dose of treatment for the pneumonitis, they both began to recover.
Typically, hookworms, which thrive in warm climates, bury themselves into the host’s skin and make their way to the large intestine.
There, they lay their eggs, then pass out of the body in the stool.
But humans are not a natural host for Ancylostoma braziliense or Ancylostoma caninum.
However, they can become infected after walking barefoot on beaches or coming into contact with soil that’s contaminated with animal feces.
They stay under the skin, trying to find their way. The rash is a reaction as the immune system tries to attack the parasite.
Dr Maslin and his colleagues explained: ‘The hookworm larvae are excreted in the feces of the infected animal host (usually a dog or cat) on to sandy beaches or moist soil, where they can penetrate into the epidermis of human skin on contact.’
They said that symptoms to watch out for are the burning red spots at the site of entry.
Typically, an itchy rash will follow, which slowly creeps along a patch of skin over the next days or weeks.
They tend to infect the soles of a person’s feet but can strike anywhere, the medics team warned.
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