Health and Medicine

Woman With Shooting Pains Turns Out To Have Something Living Inside Her Face


James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockJan 24 2019, 12:23 UTC

A woman from York, England, began to develop a pain in her forehead, as well as a red swelling. 


The 55-year-old went to the doctors where she was told it was most likely an infected insect bite. She was sent home with antibiotics to clear up the infection, but a few days later her uncomfortable swelling turned into shooting pains in her face, whilst the swelling spread down to her eyes. 

She presented herself to the emergency department at her local hospital. The lesion now measured about 1 centimeter (0.4 inches) across and had discharge coming out of it, according to her doctors.

Upon further inspection, doctors found there was a maggot living inside her face.

BMJ Case Reports

The woman, not named in the British Medical Journal Case Report, was treated by applying petroleum jelly to the lump before manually extracting the live maggot. The maggot was sent to the London School of Tropical Medicine for examination, as the patient had recently traveled to Uganda, where she went on a trek in the Kibale National Park rainforest.


Tests confirmed that the larva belonged to Cordylobia rodhaini, aka Lund's fly, a species found in the rainforests of Africa. 

Her ordeal wasn't over yet.

Ultrasound confirmed that there was another larva living slightly deeper inside her forehead.

BMJ Case Reports

The species prefers thin-skinned mammals, especially rodents. After maturing under the skin, the larva exits the lesion and falls to the ground, shortly thereafter emerging as a fly. 

Extremely rare, only 14 cases of Lund's fly burrowing into humans have been reported worldwide since 1970. However, the patient says that she is aware of a similar case in someone she knows.

"A friend of my son who joined us in Uganda had the same infestation on his back when he left to come home to UK, but the walk-in centre in London where he lives did not believe the lump on his back was anything more than an infected bite," she told BMJ Case Reports.


"He also had a maggot which came out when he took the Elastoplast off."

Medical staff removed her second maggot surgically, before cleaning the wound.

BMJ Case Reports

The patient likely picked up her little friend whilst wrapping her head up in a damp towel that had been left outside. Now maggot-free, she is fully recovered and "remains well".

Health and Medicine
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