Worm Eats Man's Retina: 9 Terrible Parasites

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Dairman and her husband, Andrew Cahill, 30, already had plenty of bot fly (Dermatobia hominis) bites from the trip. But little did the couple know the bot fly lays its eggs in a more insidious way.

"They actually capture a mosquito or a tick and they lay their eggs on their stomachs," said Dairman. The bot fly then releases the mosquito or tick and hopes it will find a good host -- like Dairman -- to bite.

The warmth of the blood the mosquito sucks from the body prompt the bot-fly eggs to hatch. The larvae then embed themselves in the skin either through the new insect bite or a hair follicle, according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

As if that's not bad enough, the larvae start to grow spikes on its body to keep hosts like Tara from pulling them out as they feed on her flesh.

"They have these little barbs in them so either when they move or when they're feeding it feels like this hot needle stabbing into you," said Dairman.

Days after the first symptoms, Dairman discovered she had a second itchy, painful spot on her head that caused a lot of pain.

An infection of the bot fly larva found on the head of Tara Dairman, 30. The tip of the larva can be seen as a white dot in the center of the red sore. Photo courtesy of Andrew Cahill.

But Cahill couldn't see what Dairman was talking about. With some Internet searches the couple matched Dairman's symptoms to the notorious bot fly. They also read the best way to find the larvae is to try and deprive them of oxygen.

Put on some form of grease, in this case Vaseline, and the larvae will burrow upwards and fight for air.

The couple would have visited a dermatologist, but wanted to see if they could do it without paying hundreds of dollars for a visit.

"Since we quit our jobs to go traveling we don't have health insurance to cover us in the United States, we only have insurance for emergencies," said Dairman.

If you're fast enough you can grab them with tweezers and (painfully) pull them out. Cahill however, found it was better to suffocate them first.

"We covered them with New-Skin for the night to cut off their air supply," Cahill wrote on their blog, "Andy and Tara's World." "New-Skin is basically fingernail polish that is meant to go on small cuts and scrapes for protection. This morning when we got up, we peeled the New-Skin off one of them and the dead worm was visible."

Dairman said she'd go back to Belize, even after her experience with the bot fly.

"Belize is terrific. So I'd certainly recommend it to anyone," said Dairman. "I think this is really rare."

4) Fish Tapeworms

For a spare few aficionados of raw fish, the delicacy they love can lead to a very unwelcome visitor -- the kind that takes up residence in your intestines.

Anthony Franz was one such case. In the summer of 2006, he went to a Chicago area hospital carrying a 9-foot tapeworm that had come from his digestive tract.

Franz, who was not available for comment, filed a lawsuit against an Illinois seafood restaurant for $100,000 last spring.



"Basically we discovered that this particular tapeworm was caused from uncooked seafood, particularly salmon," said Franz's attorney, Gregory Leiter. "That's what he brought into the hospital."

Franz is one of the small but growing number of tapeworm victims in cities across the world who are discovering (or rediscovering) that some of the most popular fish can host parasites.

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