An Edmonton man is hoping his toddler's misdiagnosis of a viral illness at a Mexican resort will serve as a reminder to others.
Manuel Echevarria and his family take a trip every January, jetting off to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. This year, the Echevarrias spent two weeks from Jan. 10 at the Riu Tequila resort.
But four days into the trip, the father noticed his youngest son, 18-month-old Manuel, was acting different. He wasn't drinking much or eating properly.
"It was out of character, so at that point I decided to phone Sunwing," the dad recalled, noting he purchased travel insurance through the company.
"They told me to reach out to the doctor at the hotel."
The doctor told Echevarria his son had a form of bacteria in his throat, prescribing Tylenol for pain and daily doses of amoxicillin.
After a couple days, the toddler's fever started to drop – welcome news to Echevarria.
"I thought he was getting better, but he really wasn't."
FAMILY BRINGS BACK UNWANTED MEMENTO FROM VACATION
It wasn't until the last night of their trip that spots began developing on the toddler's hands and feet, a tell-tale sign of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD).
"As soon as we landed we sought medical attention. And that's when the doctor told us he didn't have no type of throat infection, what he had was HFMD," Echevarria said.
"I felt happy that I was home and I could trust the care here and I could trust they were going to help him, and I was also disappointed. The doctors over there are not diagnosing this properly. They are just thinking it's a throat infection but in reality it's actually something else."
It took a few days for his son to recover — but shortly afterwards Echevarria contracted the virus himself.
"It's really sore, itchy. (The spots are) on my feet as well. It's hard to walk. It's hard to swallow. It feels like I'm swallowing glass," he explained.
"Since Tuesday I haven't been able to go to work."
While Echevarria is frustrated by the misdiagnosis, one pharmacist told CTV News Edmonton the viral infection is about as common as a serious ear infection.
Pinwen Duan said he isn't surprised the virus was misdiagnosed in its early stages.
"Just a fever and a sore throat just by themselves could be very non specific," Duan explained.
"It could point to a whole number of different diseases and not necessarily just throat infection."
A WARNING TO OTHER TRAVELLERS
"When I put it into perspective, I can't believe my son went through that," Echevarria told CTV News Edmonton.
"I hope his wasn't as painful as mine. He went through a tough 10 days because I am having issues with it – imagine a little boy."
The father wants other vacationers to be aware, and shared his experience online upon hearing other Canadians who returned from Sunwing-affiliated resorts in the Dominican Republic with illnesses.
Sunwing officials contacted Echevarria after they saw his review, asking he submit paperwork from both the Mexican and Canadian doctors.
In a statement, Sunwing told CTV News Edmonton it was working with the hotel to investigate.
"Now that we are aware of this situation we are looking into whether or not appropriate protocol was followed," it read.
"We are sorry to hear about this disappointing experience and wish Mr. Echevarria and his family a timely recovery."
Echevarria hopes his story will encourage other families to be wary when abroad.
"Kids are going to get sick no matter what. It's something we can't control."
Sunwing said it is not aware of other health concerns at the hotel but that it will be monitoring the situation.
With a report from CTV News Edmonton's Sarah Plowman