Vacation for a couple at a beautiful Caribbean beach turned out to be a worm horror after the two suffered burning, red and itchy backs caused from worms that had burrowed into their skin.
The unnamed couple was on a cruise that had stopped on the island of Martinique. It was shortly after their beach visit that the wife, 52, first noticed an “initial burning sensation” all over her bum. The next day she woke up to find her behind was covered by an “eruption” of red pinprick marks.
Doctors on the cruise ship prescribed the patient antibiotics, as well as antifungal treatments and steroid creams, however, nothing seemed to be working. Ten days after first noticing her symptoms, the rash had spread further and it was then the woman’s husband revealed he was plagued by similar symptoms.
Medics led by Dr Douglas Maslin at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, wrote in a case report in the BMJ that the patient’s husband was noted to be itching and examination revealed a rash with equivalent distribution and morphology.
Doctors diagnosed the pair with cutaneous larva migrans, a parasitic skin infection caused by hookworm larvae. They typically infest dogs, cats and other animals. But humans can become infected after walking barefoot on beaches, or coming into contact with soil that’s contaminated with animal poo.
The condition is known as a creeping infection, because once infected the larvae burrow under the skin’s surface and cause itchy red lines or tracks.
Both patients were treated, and given a drug used to combat parasitic infections, including head lice and scabies.
Unfortunately, five days later the woman was rushed to A&E with a dry cough, shortness of breath and a chest infection, and later her husband suffered the same symptoms and were found to be suffering hypersensitivity pneumonitis, inflammation of the lungs, which doctors said could have been caused by the worms infiltrating their lungs. Both were treated and are doing better.