They Were Treated for a Parasite. Then Their Butts Were Everywhere

'BMJ' withdraws journal article after embarrassed patients complain about the exposure
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2018 10:05 AM CST
Updated Mar 4, 2018 12:15 PM CST
After BMJ Shares Cheeky Photos, Embarrassed Couple Butts In
A hookworm egg is seen here.   (Wikimedia/Joel Mills)

After suffering painful red rashes on their backsides, a husband and wife were left red in the face—so much so that a case study of their ordeal has now been pulled from the prestigious British Medical Journal. As BMJ tells the Washington Post, the British pair whose bottoms became infested with hookworm larvae on a beach in Martinique initially agreed to the Jan. 13 publication of their case, as well as photos of "red pinprick marks" on their backsides. Though their names were never mentioned, the pair "indicated their understanding that complete anonymity could not be guaranteed" and were warned journalists might pick up the story, BMJ says. But when that happened—with headlines like "His and Her Hookworm: Same Rash Strikes Couple on the Rear"—the pair had a change of heart.

With the spread of photos and case details—including the woman's age, the couple's Caribbean destination, the cruise line on which they traveled, and the Cambridge hospital they visited—one of the pair asked that the article be withdrawn over concerns "about being identified by close friends and/or colleagues," BMJ says. In what the Post calls a "highly unusual 'correction,'" the journal then announced it was pulling the article despite standing by its content. As the Independent reports, the article was meant to helpful in combating a lack of familiarity in the medical community with hookworm infections. According to the CDC, such infections can be passed through contact with soil or sand contaminated with feces. As the BMJ study explained, the British couple were infected when they sat on a sandy, and apparently unsanitary, beach. (More British Medical Journal stories.)

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