It's been almost 2 months since returning from my trip to Greece and Turkey. After experiencing an increasingly uncomfortable itch, I finally noticed little red wormlike burrows on my thighs. Two separate opinions resulted in the same diagnosis by the dermatologists - cutaneous larva migrans. It's a hook worm common in dogs and felines - the intended hosts. However, it can penetrate human skin through contact with infected sand or sandy soils. I didn't bring sandals on my trip, but the only place i took off shoes and sat on a beach was in Tolo, close to Nafplion. Given the number of stray dogs I witnessed in both Greek and Turkish beach communities, I'm not surprised I got this. Anyone else have this issue? The dermatologists told me it's rare (at least in the Pacific northwest) and generally only associated with people who have recently traveled to tropical locations, and in particular walked barefoot on sandy beaches.
So sorry to hear that! Not surprised though considering the beach I went to near Izmir, Turkey was filthy. Of course I still waded in the water. Hope you feel better soon.
Is there anything that can be done? Are you on Meds?
So, your dermatologist says people who walk on "tropical beaches" are more likely to get parasites.
Makes me wonder what the definition of "tropical beaches" is? Does that cover Italy? Hawaii (maybe not tropical enough)? Caribbean?
I don't think it's likely for Hawaii because the feral dog and cat population is under better control. However, from what I read it's more common in central and south America, plus the Caribbean. There's a pretty simple anti-parasite drug solution, though they don't die right away and the itching can continue for weeks. If someone were to not take the drug (dosage depends on weight), the parasites would eventually just die out on their own, but most people can't put up with the itching that long. Just finally figuring out the problem may be enough to help me finally sleep, but I thought I would pass on that others may want to resist the urge to walk barefoot in the sand in southern europe when you see feral dogs and cats milling around. This was my first time to Greece and Turkey, but I was particularly struck by the number of feral dogs. Tolo's beach has many restaurants on the sand and the dogs and cats are literally beach bums.
I am so sorry you are having this problem. It sounds like the beaches in Greece and Turkey are routinely filthy. Or was just one beach bad? Compared to other European destinations, are these 2 countries less clean over-all?
I thought Turkey overall was clean. Because of their religious beliefs there was always a place to wash your hands which I appreciated. In the places where you are supposed to take off your shoes I chose to wear socks. Not because the floor looked dirty, just out of preference. The beach was the exception and of course that is where everyone was barefoot. You didn't really notice until you were wading in the water and started noticing the drifting bits of trash. The dogs and cats wandering the towns looked cared for but the animals around the beach seemed less so. I don't think this is a matter of Americans looking down on a country, just an observation.
Personally, I was shocked by the number of stray dogs and cats in both Greece and Turkey. I saw them everywhere I went, including a group of small islands off the coast of Istanbul (I think they call them the Prince Islands). The cats in Istanbul seemed to be pretty well cared for, but many of the dogs seemed neglected with obvious limps, mange, and whatnot. If no one is claiming and caring for them, there are bound to be some that lack all the necessary shots they need to maintain immunity to worm infections and other common maladies - hence this problem. Just in passing, this came up with a friend who traveled to Turkey a couple years back and she had acquired the same skin parasite from walking on a beach.
I had a very limited exposure, so perhaps I just had bad luck, but I'm very curious if this is much more common and simply not reported? My dermatologist says his office group sees about one of these cases a year and when I mentioned where I traveled, he had no doubt of the issue, so I suspect it's more than one beach where you can catch these things. From what I've read online, the basic precautions are to wear feet protection and if you must walk barefoot in a beach where you've spotted stray animals, stick to the wettest part of the sand where the water is constantly washing through it.