Katie Stephens and Eddie Zytner.
Katie Stephens and Eddie Zytner.Facebook/Katie Stephens

Tropical getaways sure sounds romantic and exotic, but they often come with its own share of dangers that creep on visitors when they are least expecting it – that too while doing something perfectly regular.

The same happened for a young Canadian couple who recently returned from the Dominican Republic and is doing everything they can to warn others planning to travel to such tropical areas, about the risks of taking long, barefoot walks along the sand.

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The duo had indulged in the same and after coming home with an "incredibly itchy" feet, they soon found out that the itch was from parasites.

Katie Stephens, the 22-year-old Ontario resident told CTV News that during their stay at the IFA Villas Bavaro Resort in Punta Cana, she and her boyfriend, 25-year-old Eddie Zytner, "found that we were scratching our feet quite a bit."

She also shared that having heard of sand fleas, the two of them had initially dismissed the itch off as they "kind of assumed it was that at first". But after returning home on January 18, Eddie was the one to notice the unusual swelling on his feet, alongside small bumps that had formed on his toes.

Katie also wrote on Facebook that at first the two of them "simply thought it was just bug bites and it became worse as each day passed." After two doctors were left completely stumped about the condition, Eddie shared that a third doctor was able to recognize the condition as he had recently seen a similar case from a tourist who travelled to Thailand.

As per Katie's Facebook post, the two of them had contracted larva migrans – or in simpler terms – hookworms. She also revealed that the two likely came into contact with the parasites while they were taking a walk on the sandy beaches of their resort in Punta Cana.

In her Facebook post, Katie also wrote that "this injury has nothing to do with coverage or travel insurance, I was back in my home country when I was first treated and don't need travel coverage for what I have."

The two were prescribed ivermectin — a medicine used to kill worms developing in the body. But Katie also mentioned that Canada's national public health department, Health Canada, denied their request for the medication because it's not licensed in Canada — which required her mother to travel to Detroit, Michigan to get the medicine.

She also shared that her purpose behind posting their ordeal on Facebook was to warn people of the potential danger of travelling to tropical areas and Eddie said that he wanted doctors to become more aware of the condition.

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"We want to make it known to more doctors what it is, what to look for and stuff because it took us a few trips to the hospital to find out what it was," he told CTV News.

However, their feet are getting better each day and they have decided to see a specialist to determine the type of treatment they need for the skin damage the parasite attack put them through. As for the resort itself, they couldn't be reached for a comment.