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Mother Outraged After Son Contracts Hookworm

MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) -- A Miami Beach mother is outraged after she said her son contracted hookworm while playing on the beach at 87th Terrace and Collins this weekend.

"It's disgusting. I want to wash everything," said Nakary Eriksson. "It's disgusting, it's disgusting, it's just … the thought to know your child had a living larvae in his skin. It's just horrible. It's horrible!"

The rash seems to be fading now, but Eriksson said she took her three-year-old son Shovan to the doctor for an examination on Monday. The doctor prescribed a medication to treat hookworm which dried up the infection, she said.

Eriksson said she was surprised that her son caught the parasite from the beach at 87th Terrace and Collins.

The concerned mother said she purposely chose that location because it was approximately 30 blocks away from 60th Street, the stretch of beach identified by the health department in six reported cases of hookworm.

Eriksson called the Miami Dade Health Department to report her son's case as CBS 4 News listened in. The department representative did not ask for any of Eriksson's information nor was he interested in the specific area of the beach Shovan may have contracted the parasite.

However, the representative did advise her to call Miami Beach and also spoke to her about the need to educate the public about not feeding cats.

"I'm lost. Are you joking that you need to educate the people not to feed the cats," said Eriksson. "How hard is just to take the cats and remove them? I know its people who love the cats. I don't have anything against that, but we can't use the beach. We can not use the beach!"

The health department said hookworm cases might be linked to cat feces left behind in the sand from the overpopulation of cats living on the beach.

Miami Beach officials said they're doing their part and have scoured the beach near 60th Street, conducting a thorough cleaning of the area. They also said they take the problem seriously and are tackling the issue from many different angles, including efforts to control the cat population in a humane manner.

As for the response Eriksson received from the health department, the agency's director told CBS 4 News that is not the normal procedure they follow.

"The obligation of the person who is taking calls for that day is taking that information and passing it on to the investigative unit," said Lillian Rivera, Administrator for the Miami Dade Health Department. "I don't know where the breakdown is, but we're going to get to the bottom of it."

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