Larvae carve an itchy niche

CHIANG MAI, PHUKET: Pity the poor housefly. Free of the ethical dilemmas facing humans, all it can aspire to in its short, frenetic life is to pass its genes onto the next generation. But with drought conditions lingering on in much of the country, flies are apparently finding it more difficult to locate piles of moist excrement in which to lay their eggs. The next best option, it appears, is inside the body cavities of unsuspecting mammals – preferably in buffalo or other large creatures with big noses and little ability to ward flies off. Perhaps it was only a matter of time before flies would discover that the body cavities of humans offered similarly cosy advantages. The first such instance reported recently happened in Phuket, where doctors at Wachira Phuket Hospital removed some 50 blood-engorged maggots from inside the ears of Anan Temtan, 84. K. Anan’s relatives rushed him to the hospital on April 26 after he used cotton buds to relieve intense itching in his ears but ruptured his eardrums in the process, causing blood to stream from his ears. A doctor used tweezers to remove some of the maggots before resorting to a vacuum tool to suck the remaining maggots out. “We believe flies might have gone inside his ears to lay eggs, which hatched into larvae, causing the itching,” said hospital Deputy Director Dr Somsak Nonthasri. Anan’s granddaughter, Wimolrat Temtan, 19, said K. Anan had recently helped clean up a market in his neighborhood. Dr Somsak said he was surprised that K. Anan had not come to see a doctor sooner. Most people with something inside their ear canals would not be able to stand it for very long, he said. The next victim reported as falling prey to fly maggots was an unsuspecting pig farmer in Chiang Mai. The 38-year-old woman, whose name was not reported, didn’t realize she was host to dozens of infesting larvae until her left cheek became so badly swollen that she needed an immediate operation. Dr Tawee Thanuparp-rangsan at Nakhon Ping Hospital in Chiang Mai said the 38-year-old patient came to see him at the end of March, complaining of severe pains in her left cheek. “I checked her nasal cavity and found many fly maggots there,” he said. The doctor explained that the maggots had been feasting on tissue inside the patient’s nasal cavity, leaving large festering wounds. The maggots had already eaten away so much tissue that some of the patient’s bones were exposed, he added. The woman was immediately anesthetized and operated on and Dr Tawee removed 34 fly maggots from inside the woman’s nose. “She then needed antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection for five straight days before being allowed to return home,” he said, adding that the patient was a pig farmer exposed to a large numbers of flies on a daily basis. “Probably while she was sleeping, a fly went up her nose and laid its eggs, which then hatched into larvae,” the doctor speculated. Dr Tawee believed this had been Thailand’s first reported case of fly maggots growing in a human nose – but will it be the last?

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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