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Flesh eating maggots: Bot fly takes bite

Jenny Lamb.
Jenny Lamb. Tanya Easterby

IT takes more than giant, flesh-eating maggots to make Jenny Lamb's skin crawl.

And just as well, because crawling under your skin is exactly what the bot fly does.

"Some people are horrified, but it doesn't bother me," the Pie Creek resident said yesterday.

She was talking about her unwanted souvenir from a recent holiday in Central and South America.

And it was one of the more exotic cases faced by her Gympie GP.

He ultimately contacted colleagues at Nambour Hospital after what looked like a tick bite did not heal as tick bites are supposed to.

A small but mysterious lump on her head became an adventure in tropical medicine for Pie Creek's Jenny Lamb.

"I didn't take much notice of it at first," she said yesterday. "But a few days later, glands came up and it was very sore, so I thought I should go to a doctor.

"He said it looked like a tick bite, which would take about two weeks to go down.

" 'And don't scratch it,' he advised. But it wasn't itchy. It was sore.

"I told him I had been on holidays in the jungles of Costa Rica and while we were there we were warned about an orange bug which would land on your skin.

"Our guide said we should blow it off and not flick it,

because it could leave eggs behind and they would burrow through your skull and eat your brain.

"I didn't catch that bug, but the story triggered something in my doctor's mind.

"I was starting to feel a little ill, so I went back to the doctor. He took one look at it and knew it was not a tick bite.

"He got on the phone to a tropical medicine specialist at Nambour Hospital. She basically said could I get down there.

"I said I'd go anywhere, because I was really sick. She took one look at it and knew all about it."

It was a bot fly larva, an exotic 1.5cm maggot native to the Americas.

"They grow to maturity and drop off to pupate on the ground," she said.

"I guess I'm a smuggler now. I got it past Biosecurity," she said.

Her next holiday is in northern Europe, a region which, we are told, is largely free of giant flesh eating maggots.

Bot flies

Latin name - Dermatobia hominis

Comes from - Central and Latin America

Life cycle - Grows to maturity under the skin

Comment - not harmful, just disgusting

Topics:  editors picks south america

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