HEALTH ALERT: Memphis teens contract hookworms on mission trip
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A Memphis teen is suffering severe pain after he contracted hookworms while on a mission trip in Florida.
Michael Dumas and eight other boys went on the trip back in June. They worked hard for the majority of the trip, but one day they were allowed to relax in the sun on Pompano Beach.
That day of fun turned into weeks of severe pain.
Four of the boys contracted hookworms.
His mother, Kelli Dumas, said that Michael is in extreme pain and is taking several medications that cost the insured family more than $1,300.
A Memphis doctor diagnosed Michael, saying he had multiple hookworms living under his skin--one of them was 3 inches long.
Hookworm is a dangerous parasite that can inhabit internal organs or skin. It spreads by touching soil or sand infected with feces.
Kelli said she called Broward County Health Department to tell them what happened. She hoped she would be able to alert the authorities, who would take precautions that could save another family a lot of heartache.
But instead, Broward County Health Department blamed her son for the infection.
"She explained to me that everyone knows you're supposed to wear shoes on the beach," Kelli said. "I said, 'I have a doctorate and I'm 54 and I've never worn shoes on the beach!'"
Broward County Health Department said Monday it was looking into the reported hookworm infections.
Kelli said she still hopes the department will issue a warning to Pompano Beach visitors.
"We have suffered so much. I don't want anyone else to go through this; he's going to be permanently scarred," Kelli said.
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