“Some Beach, Somewhere” is not only a popular country music song AND the name of one of the best Standardbred racehorses in the world (originally Canadian, no less!), it’s also the prime source of infection for a disease called cutaneous larva migrans.

Cutaneous larva migrans is a skin disease caused by migration of hookworm larvae. The most common hookworm species involved is Ancylostoma braziliense, which can be shed in the stool and dogs and cats. Ancylostoma caninum  and A. tubaeforme are other species of hookworms that parasitize dogs and cats, respectively, and can also cause the disease, but much more rarely.

Animals infected by the hookworms shed hookworm eggs in their stool. These eggs then develop into larvae, and people become infected through skin contact with hookworm larvae in the environment, particularly in sandy areas like beaches where infected animals may have defecated.

Cutaneous larva migrans is characterized by a “serpiginous (snake-like) rash” that is intensely itchy (see picture left).  This is caused by the parasite larva burrowing through the skin. In North America, the disease is most common in the southeastern US and the Caribbean. Most , if not all, cases in people in Canada are associated with travel, especially to Caribbean countries; they presumably caused by exposure to hookworm larvae on the beach. Ancylostoma braziliense is not found in Canada.

The best means of controlling cutaneous larva migrans are to promptly remove dog and cat stool from the environment and dispose of it in the garbage, and to regularly deworm dogs and cats. This is important in areas where A. braziliense is endemic, but is easier said that done in areas where feral (wild) dogs are common.

Photo source: http://www.leeds.ac.uk