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Flesh eating maggots

botfly2

Australians Ally Vaag and Bryan Williams were holidaying in South America when they discovered something growing under their skin. Whilst touring the Amazon Basin they were bitten by mosquitoes, and by the time they had made it to Bolivia the bites had transformed into oozing pustules. They found medical attention and discovered they each had flesh-eating maggots living inside them.

This is a pretty scary story, but what makes it even weirder is how they actually got there. The maggots were the larvae of the Dermatobia hominis, the botfly. An adult female botfly will actually capture a smaller, blood-sucking insect, usually a mosquito or tick, and lay eggs on it. After all her eggs are deposited, she releases the insect to go about its day. Then, when the mosquito or tick bites a human or any other warm-blooded mammal, the botfly eggs sense a change in temperature and hatch into tiny larvae. The larvae then enters the host’s skin through the bite wound.

Botfly or "Arsehole"

Botfly or “Arsehole”

The larvae feed on pus inside the skin, and breath through tiny air holes at the skin’s surface. It’s disgusting, but not life-threatening to the mammal. Dr. Marc Shaw of New Zealand’s Worldwise Travelers Health and Vaccination Center, explains:

“There’s a great mythology about the botfly, but really, you just pull them out and forget about it. They’re quite robust little blighters, but they come out relatively easily.”

The method of removal is pretty simple: Cover the wound with petroleum jelly to block out the air holes and suffocate the larvae. Then simply remove them with a pair of tweezers.

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2 comments on “Flesh eating maggots

  1. Torre DeRoche (@FearfulGirl)
    January 14, 2013

    This is gross. And yet strangely I feel like tweezing some suffocated botfly larvae from my skin. It would be cathartic, I think.

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2013 by in Weird nature.

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