Australian couple Ally Vagg and Bryan Williams simply thought they would have a pleasant vacation in South America when they visited Bolivia. Instead, the trip was memorable for another reason - both were infected with flesh-eating larvae of botfly.
The couple initially thought that they were suffering from mosquito bites, not altogether uncommon in South America, according to The Gold Coast Bulletin. Eventually, they realized that those mosquito bites had provided the entrances of botfly larvae, when they felt wriggling under the surface of their skin and sometimes even poking their head out of the open wounds.
Vagg and Williams pulled out at least seven larvae out of their wounds, and have employed other do-it-yourself methods. Williams, for example, strapped tape to the open wound on his chest in an effort to starve the creatures of oxygen and bring them to the surface. The couple also needed to contend with the medical system in a developing country and a language barrier in the Spanish-speaking nation. The pair may need to undergo minor surgery to remove the rest of the parasites as well.
Botflies have an interesting breeding method. They often insert their larvae into hosts like mosquitoes, who then insert the babies into the flesh of an unsuspecting host. The maggots feed on the flesh of the host, eventually escaping when they become fully grown botflies which resemble bumblebees, the New Zealand Herald reports.
Though infestation is annoying and troublesome, medical experts say that the botfly is not dangerous. In fact, they can even quite easily be combated by smothering open wounds with Vaseline, which will suffocate the maggots and bring them to the surface. After their death, they can be extracted with tweezers.
However, if you hope not to be bitten by botflies in South America or Africa, where the insects can be rampant, doctors say to simply do your best to evade mosquitoes. That means wearing long pants, proper footwear, light colors and using insect repellant are simply the only ways to avoid infection.
Vagg and Williams hope to return to their native Australia in February. They must stay in their host country until they are fully healed.
Published by Medicaldaily.com