What is Myiasis?

Dulce Corazon

Myiasis is a parasitic disease caused by an infestation of maggots or larvae of flies in several parts of the body. There are almost 100 types of flies that belong to the diptera order which may cause myiasis. Examples of species that can cause myiasis include the human botfly, sheep botfly and the tumbu fly. They typically gain entrance to the human body through open wounds, inhalation, ingestion of infected meat products, and sometimes, even through intact, unbroken skin. The infestation frequently affects the eyes, skin, ears and nose.

Thorough hand washing can help prevent myiasis.
Thorough hand washing can help prevent myiasis.

The manifestations of the disease usually depend on which part of the body the fly deposited its larvae. When it is in the eye, for example, the patient presents with severe eye irritation, pain, swelling of the eyelids, and tearfulness. He may also experience sensations of having a foreign body within the eye.

Myiasis may infect and affect the ears.
Myiasis may infect and affect the ears.

If myiasis affects the nose, the patient usually complains of nasal obstruction, frequent nosebleeds and difficulty swallowing. Foul smelling nasal discharges are also observed. Invasion of the ears, on the other hand, usually presents with smelly discharges from the affected ear. A patient may have the sensation of hearing buzzing noises as well. Skin disorders often show painful and itchy boil-like lesions at the scalp, legs, and face, and he may feel that something is crawling under his skin.

Maggots can infest parts of the human body.
Maggots can infest parts of the human body.

People who live or travel in tropical and sub-tropical countries such as Mexico, or continents such as Africa and South America, have higher chances of contracting myiasis. The incidence of the disease increases during the summer months. These flies mostly prefer warm and humid environments, which are ideal for their growth. Anybody can be infected with the condition, especially those who are fond of doing outdoor activities.

Myiasis may affect the scalp and cause itchiness.
Myiasis may affect the scalp and cause itchiness.

Internal medicine doctors who specialize in infectious diseases are often the physicians who diagnose and treat patients with myiasis. There are, however, no accurate diagnostic tests for myiasis. Doctors frequently diagnose these patients through the signs and symptoms they manifest, as well as through the pertinent information they solicit from the patients. Myiasis treatment involves thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the wound. Sometimes doctors remove the larvae surgically.

Symptoms of myiasis may include difficulty swallowing.
Symptoms of myiasis may include difficulty swallowing.

Myiasis can be prevented by eliminating its main source. Breeding places of flies must be destroyed through proper waste disposal and with the use of insecticides. Additionally, good personal hygiene, proper sanitation, and correct hand washing techniques are also important practices to be observed. Ironing of clothes before wearing them is another way of killing the eggs of flies.

Myiasis may affect the eyes and cause severe eye pain.
Myiasis may affect the eyes and cause severe eye pain.
If myiasis affects the nose, a patient may experience frequent nosebleeds.
If myiasis affects the nose, a patient may experience frequent nosebleeds.
Some physicians who practice internal medicine also specialize in infectious diseases.
Some physicians who practice internal medicine also specialize in infectious diseases.

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Discussion Comments

anon951460

Thanks for another great post! Myiasis is more common than people may realize, and it is not only limited to tropical regions, but is most often there.

Also, they say we start to see more and more of this as people eat too much sugar and have fungal infections, or as an imbalance in the body makes them more susceptible to infection (of all parasites), and so children and people with compromised immune systems may not fight off an ingested parasite, whereas someone with a strong immune system (and great stomach acid) can prevent infection.

But this is a very real condition and can be very difficult to heal from if intestinal.

lighth0se33

My brother was horrified to find worms in his baby's feces. The doctor thought they were pinworms and treated her for that, but the worms didn't go away.

He got a second opinion, and this doctor suspected intestinal myiasis. This is when larvae or eggs get on your food and live in your intestines.

My brother's wife had been feeding the baby super ripe bananas that were left out in the open. They kept their windows open a lot, and flies were present in the house.

The doctor told my brother that they should keep their fruit covered up. They were happy that the prevention was as simple as this.

orangey03

My neighbor went to the ER because the area under his eye was red and sore. They thought that he had an abscess, and they were about to drain the area.

When they injected the anesthesia into his skin, the head of the fly larva popped up. They pulled a worm out!

He told them that he had just gotten back from Angola, and they figured they needed to examine the rest of his body for worms. They found a couple more on his legs and thighs.

Can you imagine going to the hospital for a sore eye and finding out your body is full of worms? I don't think I'd ever be convinced that they had all been removed from my body!

kylee07drg

@Perdido – I actually have heard of this condition before, because my cousin is a dermatologist, and she treated a patient who had myiasis. There is no vaccine for it, and if there were, I'm sure people would be taking advantage of it. It is a disgusting condition that I wouldn't wish upon anyone.

My cousin used a topical ivermectin to treat this person. Ivermectin is the stuff that vets use to prevent and treat heartworms in dogs. Apparently, the kind you apply to your skin can kill the maggots.

Perdido

That is absolutely horrendous! I did not know that living people could become invested with maggots!

Now I know that I will never travel to an exotic region where this is likely to happen. I think I would throw up and pass out if I felt something crawling under my skin. I get nauseated just thinking about it!

Is there any sort of vaccination available for people who have to travel to these areas?

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