Couple contracts hookworms during beach vacation

**WARNING: The pictures in this story are graphic**

WINDSOR, Ontario (WJW) — A couple from Canada has a warning for anyone heading to the beach — wear shoes!

Katie Stephens and Eddie Zytner posted pictures to their Facebook pages that showed what happened to them after spending a week walking on the beach in Punta Cana.

The couple said they experienced itchy feet during their trip, but assumed they had just received bug bites.

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

When they returned from their trip last week, Zytner said his feet started to swell and small bumps formed on his toes.

He saw a couple of doctors who sent him home with bandages.

Two days later, Stephens’ feet started to swell.

“I had a lot of itchiness during the trip,” she told CTVNews. “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 couple went to the hospital where a third doctor recognized the condition from a similar case from a tourist who had recently returned from a trip to Thailand, CTVNews reported.

The couple said they were diagnosed with hookworms.

The couple said they were told to take a drug called Ivermectin. It’s not licensed in Canada, so Zynter’s mother had to drive to Detroit to pick up the medication.

The couple told CTVNews that they are using crutches to get around, but are starting to notice some improvement.

“I wanted to make this post because most doctors have never seen Larva Migrans before,” Zynter wrote on Facebook. “3 out of the 4 doctors we saw have never heard of this hookworm. And if your feet begin to have an itch, swell or blister or look like mine, get those hooves checked out! It may not be what your doctor thinks. All this just from walking barefoot on the beach. So, anyone travelling.. check with your resort and see if the beaches around you are cleaned regularly. And it’s best to wear shoes on the beach as much as possible!”

Story from WJW