A few days ago, a mother from Memphis, Tennessee posted some graphic photos with her teen son’s foot after he was infected with hookworm parasites at Pompano Beach. Kelli Mulhollen Dumas shared her story which immediately gathered a wide attention from both the press and the Centers for Disease Control.
Mulhollen Dumas wants to raise awareness about the dangers of parasitic infections gathered from the beaches. Her son Michael went to the beach with his friends who had buried him in the sand. They went to the beach on 18 and 19 June, she wrote in her Facebook post:
“He was buried in the sand for fun and it has become our nightmare.”
Michael and other four people in the group contracted the parasite, but Michael had severe symptoms.
By June 20 his feet got swollen, and he couldn’t walk on it. He developed a staph infection and had to bathe his leg in bleach every day.
Wearing Shoes on the Beach?
Mulhollen Dumas called the Pompano Beach Health officials who had a simple solution to the problem: “everyone knows to wear shoes on the beach because you can get parasites.” The mother explained on Facebook that she “assured them everyone does NOT KNOW THAT.”
After trying to contact for several times the Florida Department of Health in Broward County on July 16, a supervisor answered her the next day, explaining that they will not issue a warning. The mother then called the Centers for Disease Control, and the Florida Department of Health, worrying that there would be more cases of parasitic infection if there is no warning on the beach.
The officials assured the woman they open an investigation, requesting her to speak with all the infected individuals.
In the end, the treatment for her son’s infection went up to $1356 for six pills.
“We have no idea how long this is going to take to heal but he has taken four antibiotics, two antiparasitics and a steroid pack and he is going to be permanently scarred from this situation,” said the mother, adding that she doesn’t “want anyone else to unknowingly have the same disease happen to them.”
Hookworm Infection Symptoms
The Center for Disease Control informs that warm and moist places that are not cleaned are likely to contain hookworm parasites which can infect people when their skin comes in contact with the contaminated soil.
The symptoms are rashes where the skin got infected, but there is also abdominal pain, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue and weight loss.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.