Wear Your Shoes!

It’s likely your mother instructed you to wash your hands after using the restroom, to chew with your mouth closed, and to look both ways before crossing the street. But did she warn you about the dangers you are exposed to by not wearing shoes?
Every day I see travelers and locals alike, walking barefoot through the streets. Not only does this put one at risk for accidentals such as stepping on broken glass or a rusty nail (think Tetanus) but there are also dangers that cannot be seen by the naked eye (or foot). hookwormI can’t help but wonder if these carefree barefoot people have considered the array of parasites lurking beneath their own feet.
Hookworms are intestinal parasites transmitted through contaminated soil. Larvae enter into the human body (or other carnivores such as dogs and cats) through the feet where they eventually travel to the intestines and mature into adults. An itchy rash develops at the entrance point, and as the larva move to other areas in the body, one can experience symptoms like weight loss, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and anemia.
Hookworms can be treated by taking a series of anthelmintic drugs, medication that causes the body to expel parasites. However, it’s best to avoid hookworm altogether by simply slipping on a pair of sandals before leaving your house. (http://www.ehow.com/info_8423537, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Hookworm FAQs; November 2010)

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Printed monthly in both English and Spanish with a circulation of 5,000 free copies distributed at airports, hotels, restaurants and various retail locations throughout Bocas del Toro, Panama City, David, Boquete and Costa Rica. Also published on the Internet on a daily basis.

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