A woman who recently traveled through Central and South America found a botfly larva slithering out of a wound on her arm five weeks later.
A woman who recently traveled through Central and South America found a botfly larva slithering out of a wound on her arm five weeks later. According to the case study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the woman, whose identity is not revealed, had two lesions on her left wrist that she said were caused by a mosquito bite.
As quoted by Newsweek, the anonymous woman said, “In the first week, I felt extreme itchiness and shooting pains down the length of my forearm. Over the first two weeks, the bumps grew and remained red/inflamed. The itchiness started to subside, but the pain continued.”
In a Patient’s Perspective section of the BMJ paper, the woman wrote, “Pus and a clear, yellowish liquid would leak out of the two bumps, and the bumps were hard to the touch. I never saw anything move, nor was I suspicious of anything growing under my skin.”
More than a month after the appearance of the bumps, the woman saw a scab in the affected region. She said she “mindlessly” picked it off and squeezed the other bumps. That’s when the tail of a larva emerged from a deep hole in her skin.
The larva was discovered to be that of a botfly. Botflies are parasitic flies that are native to the Americas. They are also known as warble insects, heel flies, and gadflies. The human botfly, Dermatobia hominis, is the only botfly species that parasitize people and is widespread across South and Central America, reported Newsweek.
Robert A. Schwartz, a professor of dermatology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, told Newsweek, “The lifecycle of the human botfly is fascinating.”
According to Mr. Schwartz, using a paste-like substance produced by the botfly, the female botfly embeds many of her eggs on a blood-sucking insect such as a mosquito, fly, or tick. When the specified arthropod falls on a human, the warmth causes the botfly egg to hatch.
He also said that the arthropod bites the victim after feeding on it. The botfly larva then travels inside the wound, inserting itself into the host’s tissue and creating a breathing hole with its hooked mouth.