Surprise Diagnosis for Honeymooner's Itchy Groin

Fla. woman carried human botfly larva in skin from Belize
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2018 4:03 AM CDT
Updated Nov 4, 2018 4:30 PM CST
Surprise Diagnosis for Honeymooner's Itchy Groin
Figure A shows the opening of the wound, allowing larvae to breathe. Figure B shows the removed larva.   (Mina Shenouda, MD, et al/Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports)

A tiny creature grew inside a Florida woman for two months after her honeymoon in Belize—and no, she wasn't pregnant. Weeks after returning home, the 36-year-old noticed an itchy spot on the left side of her groin and assumed she'd been bitten by an insect, reports Live Science. Thinking it was an infected spider bite, her doctor fruitlessly prescribed antibiotics. Dr. Enrico Camporesi of Tampa's Memorial Hospital next took a look, noticing a hole in the center of the wound, which felt hard, as though something were inside. A surgeon suspected it was a living thing, and turned out to be right. Cutting open the lesion, doctors found a tapered human botfly larva with rows of spines and hooks meant to keep it buried in the woman's skin for up to 128 days, reports the Miami Herald.

Commonly found in Central America, a human botfly first deposits her eggs on an insect, like a mosquito, which carries them to human or animal hosts. Injected in skin via bites, the egg hatches into larva that eventually drops from the skin and continues developing, eventually reaching the size of a large bumblebee, per the Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports. Though the botfly didn't reach the pupa stage in this case, it wasn't necessary for its human host to go under the knife. Belizeans cover lesions—with petroleum jelly, nail polish, and even bacon strips, per the Herald—to suffocate larvae, which emerge for air and can be removed with tweezers. Still, the Florida patient was healed within a week. (Caterpillar larvae might prove useful.)

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