legs
Eddie Zytner and Katie Stephens' legs had turned into messes of swollen flesh and their feet were weeping blisters, and red tracks could be seen which indicated where the worms had travelled - Representational Image MARVIN RECINOS/AFP/Getty Images

A couple from Windsor, in Ontario, Canada, who were on a holiday to the Caribbean say they regret going on the trip as both have parasites burrowing in their feet.

Eddie Zytner and Katie Stephens are currently suffering from cutaneous larva migrans — better known as hookworms.

The two said they had experienced some irritation during their trip and stay at the IFA Villas Bavaro All-Inclusive Resort and Spa, but when they returned home on 18 January, the infection manifested.

"I have dozens of worms in my feet, and so does Katie," 25-year-old Zytner said, according to Windsor Star website. "It's kind of sickening to think about."

"It's pretty gross. It's something living in your body that's not supposed to be there," 22-year-old Stephens added.

"The symptoms really started to pick up," Zytner said. "The itchiness was unbearable. We were scratching pretty much non-stop."

According to Zytner, his and Stephens' feet started deteriorating in a matter of days and had turned into messes of swollen flesh.

Their feet were said to be having blisters, and red tracks could be seen which indicated where the worms had travelled.

Stephens told the website that she later learned that scratching the affected area only worsens the worms' activity.

She said they both even found it impossible to wear socks or shoes, and needed help while walking. "I started to freak out," Stephens admitted.

According to reports, people who walk barefoot in sand or on moist soil in tropical environments mainly contract this disease.

These near-microscopic parasitic larvae enter mammalian hosts through the skin, the website reported.

Zytner said that on the very first day of their week-long trip, he and Stephens had walked barefoot on beaches near the resort on Playa Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

They said they had made repeated visits to the hospital, but on 22 January, an emergency room doctor recognised the signs of cutaneous larva migrans.

According to Zytner, even after being diagnosed, things worsened as the medications needed to treat hookworms were not licensed for sale in the country.

Health Canada has put ivermectin and albendazole on its Special Access Programme which means that the two can only obtain the medication by federal approval.

Zytner told the website that his request for the medicines was denied. "They said our case wasn't severe enough to get the medication."

"I don't know how much worse it has to be for them to approve it. People have passed away from (parasitic infections)."

But a doctor who possessed a dual-nation licence helped Zytner and Stephens to get the required medications in the US, the website reported.

The couple are said to be recovering and had another doctor's appointment. "It was a lot worse in the earlier stages," Zytner said. "Our blisters have gone down quite a bit ... The worms are dead by now. Or they should be."

"This has kind of turned us off from wanting to travel anywhere," Zytner admitted. "It's definitely scary."

"We'd never heard of having to wear shoes on a beach. We never thought this could happen."

According to the couple, they are not the only ones suffering from the disease. A couple from the Niagara region whom they met at the resort are also said to be suffering from the same condition.

However, a spokeswoman at the resort said they had not received any enquiries or complaints about hookworms from other guests.