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What Looked Like Varicose Veins Was A Worm

A man in China thought the moving itchy rash on his foot might have been a varicose vein, but a visit to the doctor’s office revealed worms were the culprit.

The unidentified 42-year-old man says he started showing symptoms after a visit to Nigeria but waited a month to get it checked out by a medical professional, the Daily Mail reports based on a case study in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Upon examining the man’s foot, doctors said the man had cutaneous larva migrans -- a parasitic skin infection caused by hookworm larvae.

Doctors prescribed anti-parasitic drug albendazole. Both the marks on his feet and his symptoms cleared up within two weeks.

Travelers to tropical regions often catch cutaneous larva migrans.

“Foreign climes are fertile ground for sick bugs, lurgies and parasites, many of which lie dormant for weeks after being contracted before rearing their ugly head,” the Telegraph reports.

Usually hookworms live in the stomach of animals like dogs and cats. Humans can become infected by coming into contact with the feces of these animals, whether by walking barefoot on a beach or by walking on soil contaminated by the animals' waste.

Itchy rashes from the infection can show up on the feet, back, buttocks, thighs or abdomen. If you notice these symptoms, it's important ot get prompt medical attention to avoid complications.

“The larva tape worm moves a few millimeters a day through the skin,” notes Dr. Wilson-Howarth. “It is incredibly itchy but easy to treat by using liquid nitrogen on the head of the worm. Phagocyte cells will remove it from the body and you’ll feel relief within hours.”

To prevent infection, avoid lying on dry sand, even with a towel. Instead, lie on sand washed by the tide or rest on a mattress or chair.

Sources: Daily Mail, The Telegraph / Photo credit: New England Journal of Medicine via Daily Mail

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