It was supposed to be a dream vacation, a way to unwind and relax on a tropical beach. But for one young Canadian couple, it turned out to be a nightmare. Katie Stevens, 22, and her boyfriend Eddie Zytner, 25, of Ontario Canada flew to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic looking forward to making new memories and had high hopes for their vacation. They checked into the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort which was a short walk from the beach and set out to make the most of their trip.
A few days into their stay was when they first noticed that both their feet were itchy, but they brushed it off as sand flies. They’d heard that the pesky insects were common in the area and thought nothing much of it. Yet with each passing day their feet grew more and more itchy surely, they thought, it would soon pass.
Upon returning home to Canada the itching persisted, not only had it gotten worse, but now their feet were painfully swollen and blistering. It soon got to the point where they had to seek medical treatment, so they headed to the local hospital. The first two doctors they saw were unsure as to what was causing their symptoms. Frustrated, they consulted a third doctor who finally had a diagnosis for them; it was a parasitic infection caused by larva migrans, more commonly known as hookworms.
The couple was immediately put on medication to treat the infection, but there was a hang up. According to Katie, “Health Canada denied out request to receive the medicine we needed to treat our infection and we were forced to get medicine from the States.” Because it was not licensed in Canada, their doctor had to put in a special request and submitted pictures of their blistered, swollen feet along with it. The response from Health Canada was that their cases were not severe enough, which makes you wonder what constitutes severe!
Thankfully Zytner’s mother drove to Michigan and was able to purchase the medicine for the couple who were extremely grateful for her help. Looking back on their trip, the couple believe they contracted the parasitic infection when they went for a walk barefoot on a beach early on during their stay. Soon after that was when they noticed their feet were itchy and from there it snowballed out of control. Now that their wounds have healed and the infection is gone they won’t be walking barefoot on the beach anytime soon.
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