Broward County

Teen visits a Broward beach and leaves with a major medical issue, his mother says

A Tennessee contracted hookworm from the sand of a beach in Pompano Beach, his mother said in a Facebook post.
A Tennessee contracted hookworm from the sand of a beach in Pompano Beach, his mother said in a Facebook post. Facebook

A visit to Pompano Beach left a Tennessee teen with an unwanted souvenir, according to his mother — hookworm.

Kelli Mulhollen Dumas took to Facebook to warn other parents of the dangers of being infected with the parasite by walking barefoot in public places. She included several pictures of her son Michael’s red, irritated foot.

“He was buried in the sand for fun and it has become our nightmare,” she said, explaining that her boy was in town on a mission trip and went to the beach with his group on June 20. “Four of our people contracted a parasitic infection, hookworms, from the Pompano Beach.”

She said her son’s was the worst.

“We have been to the pediatrician 4 times, to a dermatologist and have a follow-up appointment today,” she wrote in the post dated July 20 that has been shared nearly 9,000 times. “ He is in pain and this is AWFUL.”

Dumas told the Sun Sentinel that she was sure it was the beach trip that left him with the hookworms because he wore shoes the rest of the trip.

“He is not doing well,” she told the paper. “There are open gaping wounds on his feet and his inner and outer calves. He can’t go to football practice. He can’t wear shoes.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “hookworm eggs are passed in the feces of an infected person.”

“Hookworm infection is mainly acquired by walking barefoot on contaminated soil,” the CDC said in its description of the disease.

Dr. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic has a word of advice for those traveling outside of the U.S. – "While packing your beach bag, pack your sandals or shoes."

In the Facebook post, Dumas details the treatment plan, which so far has included Clindamyacin, Ivermectin, a steroid dose pack, and Albenza. She said Albenza cost her $1,356 for 6 pills, with insurance.

Dumas told People watching her son suffer has been difficult.

“I’m a dentist, and I have a degree in biology — I have dissected things. Science is my gig,” Dumas told People. “But 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.”