Noises in tourist's head were from flesh-eating maggots

LONDON Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:59pm EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - A British woman returned from a holiday in Peru hearing scratching noises inside her head to be told she was being attacked by flesh-eating maggots living inside her ear.

Rochelle Harris, 27, said she remembered dislodging a fly from her ear while in Peru but thought nothing more of it until she started getting headaches and pains down one side of her face and woke up in Britain one morning with liquid on her pillow.

Thinking she had a routine ear infection caused by a mosquito bite, she sought medical treatment at the Royal Derby Hospital in northern England, where a consultant noticed maggots in a small hole in her ear-canal.

"I was very scared. Were they in my brain?" said Harris, recounting her ordeal in a new Discovery Channel documentary series called "Bugs, Bites and Parasites" to be aired in the UK from July 21.

Doctors tried first to flush the maggots out of the ear using olive oil.

"It was the longest few hours that I have ever had to wait... I could still feel them and hear them and knowing what those scratching sounds were, and knowing what that wriggling feeling was, that just made it all the worse," she said.

When flushing the maggots out failed, the medics resorted to surgery and found a "writhing mass of maggots" within her ear, raising concern they could eat into her brain.

The surgery removed a family of eight maggots. Analysis found that a New World Army Screw Worm fly had laid eggs inside Harris's ear.

"I'm not so squeamish around those kinds of bugs now. How can I be? They've been in my ear!" Harris said.

(Reporting By Amritha John; Editing by Belinda Goldsmith)

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Comments (2)
Shuny wrote:
Maggots eat only dead tissue so her brain would not have been in danger. The whole situation is disgusting though. They were feasting on the dead skin in the ear canal. If she had waited a few days they would have turned into flies and left on their own. Maggots are used in medical treatment when they need to remove dead tissue. They have to cover the area in gauze so the flies don’t escape.

Jul 18, 2013 10:40am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Eideard wrote:
Screw-fly maggots can and will burrow deeper into flesh for protection. This can cause death.

Jul 19, 2013 10:52am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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