A teenager from Memphis, Tennessee, who took a missionary trip with his church to south Florida has been infected with hookworm.
The family of Michael Dumas believe he contracted the parasite on June 18 after he visited Pompano Beach in Broward County. While there, he let his friends bury him in the sand for fun.
Once back home, the 17-year-old suffered a painful earache and then rashes began appearing on his feet. When red bumps started appearing on other parts of his body, his mother, Kelli Mulhollen Dumas, took him to the doctor’s office. That’s when they received the shocking diagnosis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hookworm is an intestinal parasite that can affect humans.
“The larvae and adult worms live in the small intestine [and] can cause intestinal disease,” noted the CDC.
“Hookworm eggs are passed in the feces of an infected person. If an infected person defecates outside (near bushes, in a garden, or field) or if the feces from an infected person are used as fertilizer, eggs are deposited on soil. They can then mature and hatch, releasing larvae (immature worms). The larvae mature into a form that can penetrate the skin of humans. Hookworm infection is transmitted primarily by walking barefoot on contaminated soil.”
“Hearing your son has parasitic worms inside of his body and that they’re replicating and growing? As a mother, my stomach tightened up into a big tight ball and started flipping around. I thought I was going to throw up,” the frightened mother told People.
“I just had this vision of hookworms making babies inside my baby’s body! I was just so upset.”
Michael had multiple hookworms inside his body, including one that was 3 inches long.
“He has taken Clindamycin, Ivermectin, a steroid dose pack, and Albenza, which cost $1,356 for 6 pills (yes that is with insurance and yes I had to pay it!),” Kelli posted on her Facebook page along with some very disturbing photos of her son’s infected feet.
“We have been to the pediatrician 4 times, to a dermatologist, and have a follow up appointment today. He is in pain and this is AWFUL. Never be buried in sand or allow your children to be either! I am only showing a few pictures because it is so disturbing. Please, please pray for him to heal. Also feel free to SHARE THIS POST AND WARN OTHERS. The Health Department in Pompano Beach said, ‘Everyone knows to wear shoes on the beach because you can get parasites.’ I assured them everyone does NOT KNOW THAT!!”
He also had to go through cryotherapy (cold therapy) to rid himself of the parasites, reported People.
“The doctor started on his left foot, between his toes,” Kelli explained.
“That’s when Michael told her that he could feel the worms moving inside of his body trying to get away as she was torching them. That was disgusting.”
The teen also wound up with a staph infection and must remain at home for the time being. He cannot wear shoes and must soak the infected areas in bleach water each day, reported Fox13.
He may even have to miss his sister’s upcoming wedding, noted People.
Five other people on the missionary trip also tested positive for hookworm.
Kelli wanted to share Michael’s story with the public in order to warn others about the dangers of not wearing proper footwear outdoors.
“Since this all happened, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research,” the worried mom told Local 24.
“They enter into your bloodstream, they enter into your skin, and they replicate at a very rapid pace.”
Local 24 reported that Kelli is trying to get Pompano Beach officials to place signs on the site warning others to wear shoes in order to avoid infection.
However, she said that a woman at the Florida Health Department told her “everybody knows you’re supposed to wear shoes on the beach.”
“I don’t ever want anyone else to suffer like this,” she said.
“I had no idea this could happen. I’m 54 years old. I don’t wear shoes on the beach. I wear flip-flops. I lay out my towel. I take off my flip-flops. I don’t put my flips-flops on until I leave the beach. I think that’s what everyone does.”