Tennessee teen infected by hookworms during mission trip

Hookworm Larva (via Wikimedia Commons)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis teenage boy and five other people from the Mid-South are dealing with hookworms after an out-of-state trip.

The 17-year-old boy, Michael, went on a mission trip to south Florida last month.

During the last few days of the trip, and when he returned to Memphis, the teen’s mother -- Kelli Dumas -- said he had ear aches and was very tired.

Then, some bumps started to appear on his right thigh. Days later, they found out they were dealing with a hookworm.

Now, the infectious worm has left his body covered with gaping wounds.

“This has just been an incredible nightmare and it started off with joy,” Dumas said.

A 15-minute trip to Pompano Beach more than a month ago has left scars all over the teen’s body.

Dumas said dermatologists tried to freeze the worms.

“When she was using the liquid nitrogen, he could actually feel the worms moving in his body,” Kelli Dumas said.

According to the CDC, the larva can penetrate the skin of humans. The infection is transmitted primarily by walking barefoot on contaminated soil.

The family said they reached out to the Broward County Health Department.

“How many people have been on the beach since June 19?” Dumas asked. “How many people have been on the beach since I called her July 17? She told me when I said ‘I just want you to put a warning sign,’ she said to me ‘That’s not my job.’”

Dumas said her son is homebound now. He can’t even wear shoes and needs to soak the area in bleach water every day.

“My son intends to go to Ghana next year,” Dumas said. “Am I going to let him go without any fear? Not sure. Not sure if I’m ever going to let him out of my sight right now.”