LONDON — A British holidaymaker is recovering from surgery after she came home from vacation with some unwanted souvenirs.
The unnamed 46-year-old woman apparently picked up some nasty insect bites during a visit to the Ivory Coast.
After 10 days in pain, she went to the hospital to get the sores checked out. That’s when doctors realized she’d been infested with larvae from the parasitic tumbu fly, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
The female tumbu fly lays its eggs in soil or on damp clothes. Within about two days, the larvae hatch and wait for a chance to penetrate human skin.
The larvae burrow into the subcutaneous tissue, usually on the back, buttocks or backs of the limbs. Once inside, the parasites spend eight to 10 days feeding on the host.
The best way to avoid a tumbu fly infestation is by ironing clothes, because heat kills the larvae.
Smearing oil or Vaseline over the sores starves the maggots of air and usually forces them to the surface.
But in the British woman’s case, the larvae refused to budge when doctors tried to squeeze them out. So they put her under local anaesthetic and took the critters out surgically.
The woman was treated with antibiotics and has now fully recovered from her ordeal. No word on where she’ll be taking her next vacation though.