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“Can’t You Get Parasites by Going Barefoot?” June 29, 2010

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running , trackback

Chances are, if you’ve told anyone about your desire to try running barefoot you’ve heard that question.  So, can you get infected by a parasite by running or walking around barefooted?  I hate to say, but the answer is . . . yes.  The parasite you’re at risk for acquiring when going around barefoot is hookworm.  Pretty gross, huh?  Don’t let this stop you from kicking off your shoes.  Even with this bad news, I’ve got some good news to share.  Although going barefoot is a risk factor for a hookworm infection, it’s not the only risk factor.  Nor is it the most important risk factor.  It is, however, probably the most easily changeable risk factor in hookworm infections.  Hookworm infection is acquired through skin exposure to larvae in soil contaminated with human feces.  Honestly, how many of you can say that this applies to you?  Hookworm infection in the United States is rare and only really played a role in the impoverished South until the 1930’s.

So, can you get infected?  Yes.  Is it likely? Not really.

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