Wounds in bed can kill you

Myiasis in GermanyMaggots under the skin

The case that Dr. Jens Amendt reports, it's pretty scary:

"That an elderly lady who is disoriented escaped at home, did not appear again, and then two or three days later, by chance, was found lying in the bushes by workers who had put a railroad track back in order . And then taken to the hospital, where she was seen to be infected with fly maggots in both the anal and vaginal areas. "

Flies of the species Lucilia sericata had deposited their offspring there. These are these green-metallic, shiny blowflies.

"A day or two later, when her relatives were sitting by her bed and visiting her - she was still not really responsive at the time - fly maggots came out of both her eyes and her nose. That was of course for the relatives, who sit on the bed and look at their living grandmother, mother, was of course an extreme experience. "

Tourists often affected

It is the mucous membranes in the body orifices, but also open wounds that make humans interested in flies, says the entomologist from the Institute for Forensic Medicine at the University of Frankfurt am Main. Because there the maggots find tissue that they can easily break down. Cases like this are called myiasis in technical jargon. And they are not that rare - especially in people in need of care or homeless people with wounds that have not been treated for a long time. Healthy people, on the other hand, only catch such parasites while traveling.

"What I have come across as a case over and over again in the last three or four years is that tourists have been traveling in Italy, for example, in Sicily, in Sardinia and then been occupied by Oestrus ovis. This botfly shoots its eggs usually in the nostrils of their hosts, i.e. in the sheep's nose, and the hatching maggots settle, crawl up a bit and develop there. "

Can only be removed surgically

They can cause inflammation in humans. The maggots of the South American skin bass fly Dermatobia hominis, on the other hand, develop under the skin of humans and can only be removed surgically.

"But the animals themselves are not really a major health problem, you have to be very clear. If you compare a blowfly, for example, which, if you let it, may deposit hundreds of maggots on a homeless person, then these are five, six, seven maybe neglecting dermatobia individuals. "

If you look at the myiasis numbers in the health statistics, the cases of fly infestation in humans are still rare. In the past few years, doctors have reported between eight and 23 cases of myiasis. However, in the last two or three years he has received more inquiries from general practitioners, hospitals or care facilities - with the request to identify fly larvae, says Jens Amendt. He noticed something:

"If I look at the times: When do I get these inquiries? Then those are the seasons in which there are extreme heat waves, so it is very humid, very hot, and the nights are no longer really really cool. But In principle, it is difficult to justify such case numbers in a really valid and reasonable manner. "

Probably higher number of unreported cases

The expert in forensic entomology suspects that there could be a considerable number of unreported cases. Because doctors who remove fly maggots from an open wound on the leg, for example, only write the wound treatment on their bill, but not the maggot infestation - it does not appear in any statistics. In order to get a better overview, Jens Amendt advocates recording the myiasis numbers more systematically.

"Because I believe that it would be a possibility early on to find species with us that have not yet occurred. There are definitely species that are slowly knocking on the door of blowflies in southern Europe from the African, Asian area. And they are a bit more borderline in terms of their biology. "

If more doctors took a closer look at which maggots infest their patients, such new, more dangerous fly species could be detected and controlled at an early stage.