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Botfly stories

Marc R. Labeau labeamr3 at WFU.EDU
Wed Jan 18 12:12:18 EST 1995

Parasite net,
This was forwarded to me from someone who is hooked up to the Entomology 
net. Hope you enjoy.
Marc LaBeau

> There are several messages attached to this one.  Thanks to David Haines
>     for passing on this collection of BOTFLY stories.
>           Dave Jackson - Pestcon list owner
>      *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *
>                                                  November 3, 1993
> To:    Birdchatters
> From:  David Haines
> Re:    Still another hazard for birders
>      As if the tropics don't already carry enough threats for
> birders...I refer you to an article in the latest issue of the
> _Journal of the American Medical Association_.  It may save you
> some expensive mis-diagnoses and treatments:
>      A man who had travelled to Costa Rica found several small
> bumps on his back, which he assumed were insect bites.  They
> became quite sore and "tiny white things with black eyes" were
> seen to protrude for the hole from time to time.  "Close
> observation revealed a moving form with white spiracles bobbing
> in and out of the aperture of each nodule."
>      I turns out that certain flies in the tropics lay their eggs
> on the bellies of mosquitoes.  When the mosquito bites its host,
> the eggs fall off and the larvae bore into the skin, where they
> become maggots (18-24 mm maggots!).
>      As one would expect, most North American doctors have
> difficulty diagnosing and treating the problem.  The solution,
> however, is a happy one:  "Multiple strips of raw bacon were
> placed over lesions....  Within 3 hours, the larvae had migrated
> sufficiently into the bacon fat to be grasped with tweezers and
> removed.  Some dexterity was required to snare the larvae before
> their retreat to the safety of their subcutaneous lair."  The
> article includes instructive color photos of this operation.
> Reference:  Timothy F. Brewer et al., "Bacon Therapy and
> Furuncular Myiasis," _Journal of the American Medical
> Association_, Nov 3, 1993;270:2087-2088.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> In response to David Haines posting on human bot flies in the
> tropics I thought it worth the trouble to share my experience
> with bot flies in Belize.  I have taken students to Belize for
> the past four years.  Last year was the first time any of my
> students came back with a bot. One student had one on her back
> and another had two on his ankle.  At times the students
> experienced some discomfort when apparently the larva would
> wriggle around.  However, we did not consider the affliction
> serious enough to warrant a visit to the doctor's office.  I had
> read about putting a piece of meat over the lesion and suggested
> that to the students who tried it without success.  The bot
> larvae were removed by first suffocating the larvae with a
> combination of fingernail polish covered with vaseline ( probably
> overkill) and then squeezing the larvae out.  They came out
> intact and I have them preserved in vials.  The student with two
> botflies actually left one bot larvae in until it pupated which
> took about 6-7 weeks.  He was curious to see what would come of
> it.  The lesion grew huge but he experienced no ill effects.  The
> takehome message is: while the idea of a botfly larvae underneath
> your skin might make you queezy, the reality is that it is not a
> serious problem.
>                                         Joe Gubanyi
>                                         Concordia College
>                                         Seward NE
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> "Edible: Good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a
> toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man, and a
> man to a worm."-                                        - Ambrose
> Bierce
>                                           (The Devil's
> Dictionary)
> This talk of botfly larvae reminded me of a story I read in
> "Tropical Nature" by Adrian Forsyth and Ken Miyata. It seems that
> a graduate biology student named Jerry who was working at
> Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology found himself leaving
> test tubes behind and gaining his first field experience at a
> field course in tropical ecology in Costa Rica.
>         "A few weeks before Jerry was due to return to the
> Museum, his head began to itch. This was hardly remarkable. Skin
> fungus, chigger and mosquito bites, and a wealth of other
> pruriginous rot are the lot of field biologists in the lowland
> tropics, as he and his fellow students were by then well
> aware.......At first, Jerry assumed that the itch on his scalp
> was a mosquito bite, as indeed it was. But unlike the usual
> mosquito bite, this one did not subside. It grew larger, forming
> a small mound, and besides scratching, Jerry began to worry.
> After several days of private fretting he sought help. One of his
> fellow students, a medical entomologist, agreed to examine the
> wound. Her diagnosis sent a chill of fear through poor Jerry.
> Poking out of a tiny hole in his scalp was a wiggling insect
> spiracle. A hideous little botfly maggot was living inside the
> skin on his head and eating his flesh! This intimacy with nature
> was a little too much for Jerry, and he ran around in circles
> crying for the removal of the maggot."
>         Anyway, due to the absence of suitable surgical equipment
> the larvae was not removed and by the time Jerry got back to New
> England he had actually grown rather fond of his guest (you've
> got to read this book!) and had abandoned thoughts of a medical
> solution (yes, he had unsuccessfully tried the "slab of meat"
> method), and decided to let nature take its course. "Sudden death
> at the jaws of a large carnivore or the brief bite of a flea do
> not provide one the opportunity to reflect on the transmutative
> nature of predation and parasitism. But for the minor expense of
> a few milligrams of flesh, Jerry could both contemplate and feel
> the process at his leisure. He was inside a food chain, rather
> than at its end. Jerry grew fond of his bot and the bot grew fat
> on Jerry."         "While sitting in the bleachers at Fenway Park
> one evening watching the Red Sox fall prey to the Yankees, Jerry
> felt the beginning of the end. Protruding from the goose egg atop
> his scalp was a quarter inch of botfly larva. Over the course of
> the evening this protrusion grew, and eventually the bristly,
> inch-long larva fell free. Jerry prepared a glass jar with
> sterilized sand to act as a nursery for his pupating bot, but
> despite his tender ministrations the larva dried out and died
> before it could encase itself in a pupal sheath."
> Stu Tingley
> Shediac Bridge, NB
> Canada
> cormiey at umoncton.ca
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
> Carol Roberts write...
> >
> > If I ever have that kind of encounter with a botfly, I'm just
> gonna have to > kill myself, plain and simple. You know . . . my
> head feels kind of itchy. >
> Hear, hear Carol!  I can't imagine what I'd do if I had such an
> experience.  I know the botfly maggot sounds innocuous, but I
> still find myself holding my stomach just reading these acocunts
> (yet I also find myself reading them with vigor-- sort of like
> watching a horror movie, incredibly gross but you can't help but
> watch).  On the side, I'm also saving all those posts so I can
> pass them around to co-workers.
> Paul Pisano
> McLean, VA
> axu at nihcu (bitnet)  axu at cu.nih.gov (internet)
> --
> **********************
> david c. haines
> mathematics
> bates college
> lewiston, maine
> dhaines at abacus.bates.edu

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