Courtesy Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports
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November 01, 2018 01:47 PM

A 36-year-old woman didn’t know what to make of the itchy skin lesion she found after a trip to Belize. After months of consultations, doctors determined that a maggot had burrowed under her skin — and had been living there for months.

The unnamed Tampa, Florida, woman told doctors at Tampa General Hospital that she had been bitten by a bug in Belize two months prior, and maybe the bite left the mystery rash on her groin, according to a report on the incident in the Journal of Investigative Medicine High Impact Case Reports. There was a small hole on her groin which sometimes leaked “fluid.”

However, medical experts couldn’t figure out what was wrong with the woman. So, she went to Memorial Hospital of Tampa where doctors found the maggot, commonly known as human botfly, growing in her left groin area.

I’ve never seen anything like this in my 15 years here, but it is actually quite common in Central and South America,” Dr. Enrico Camporesi, the wound care specialist who treated the woman at Tampa Memorial, told the Tampa Bay Times.

“We don’t suspect that the egg was deposited by a fly, but instead it was a mosquito that bit the human and deposited the botfly egg.”

Camporesi did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

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The human botfly is a bug common in the tropics, and rare in the United States, according to the report published last month. The bug lays its eggs on insects like flies or mosquitoes, which then carry it onto human skin. The eggs then hatch into larvae, which burrow into the human skin and live there between 27 and 128 days, the report states.

“In some cases, the patients can feel the larvae moving when they shower or cover the wound,” researchers said in the report. “It mostly affects the limbs, though presentation on the genitals, scalp, breast and eye has been reported.”

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After living (and growing) under a person’s skin, the adult larva will drop to the ground and continue maturing for up to 78 days before becoming an adult botfly, which is between 1 and 3 centimeters long, the report states.

Because of its rarity and “unspecific symptoms,” botlfy infections in the U.S. are often misdiagnosed and treatment can be delayed. As for the woman, doctors removed the maggot through a 5 millimeter incision into her skin, the report states. A week later, the infection was “completely resolved.”

Neither the woman’s identity, nor details about the nature of her trip have been revealed, but the Tampa Bay Times reported that she was on her honeymoon during the vacation.
This isn’t the first rare instance of a bug wreaking havoc on the human body. Earlier this year, it was revealed that Abby Beckley became the first known human in history to contract a rare eye worm. Medical officials in Oregon determined that Beckley had contracted Thelazia gulosa —a type of cattle eyeworm. Fourteen small worms were removed from her eye over the course of a month.

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