You know you shouldn't have travelled to central Africa when you wake up and there are larvae living in your skin!

The Tumbu Fly is one of the significant number of vectors able to give you exotic myiasis, which is the invasion of living tissue or organs by the immature stage (well, maggots, to be correct) of flies. In the Tumbu Fly's case, it's the larva of Cordylobia anthropophaga that is responsible. If you're a noder in central or west Africa, I'm sure you've come across it.

Eggs laid on clothing rapidly develop into larvae which penetrate the victim's skin. There they will stay for ca 2 weeks and mature. Undisturbed the larvae will fall to the ground, pupate and develop into a mature fly within days.

Elton John would probably call it "the Circle of Life".

The patient normally presents with multiple large boils to his doctor or nurse, where the diagnosis can be made by the typical black marks on the head of the boil (which actually is the head of the larva).

To remove the larva, suffocate it! Use some olive oil, liquid paraffin or petroleum jelly and wait for the larva to start wriggling in distress. Now, very carefully remove the larva (if you don't get the critter out completely, the inflammatory reaction will be worse than the boil) and do what ever you like with it.

The Circle of Life.


Dion R. Bell: Tropical Medicine, 4th edition, Blackwell Science, 2000

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