A 32-year-old thought nothing of it when a small blemish appeared under her eye. Things changed when that small lump spent the next two weeks navigating the woman’s face.
For two weeks, the woman snapped pictures as the blemish traveled leaving bumps just above her eye as it made its way down her face to her lip, causing her mouth to swell.
It turns out it wasn’t just a harmless blemish. It was a parasite, living inside of her face.
The report details how the woman from Russia became the host of a parasitic worm after being bitten by a mosquito. The woman, who’s name was left out of the report, began to show symptoms just after she traveled through a rural area located near Moscow. The woman recalled being bitten “frequently” by mosquitoes during her travels.
She reported experiencing a little itching and burning while the worm traveled just under her skin.
Dirofilaria repens is the scientific name of a long parasitic roundworm that mosquitoes carry and can spread around by biting, according to the CDC. While this type of parasitic worm is more common in carnivores and dogs, this is not the first time one has infected a human. This infection in dogs is more commonly referred to as heart worms.
Mosquitos ingest the undeveloped embryo of this parasitic worm which travels to the gut and matures through three larvae stages. Once it reaches the third stage, it navigates through the mosquito’s body and waits in the mouth for the insect to bite something. When the mosquito bites an animal or a person, the larvae leaves the mouth and goes into the skin through the bite site.
Inside of the new host, the larvae is able to finish its evolution into an adult worm.
In humans, these worms tend to navigate to the eyes. They are often found near the eyelids. They, however, can be found in other portions of the body, such as in limbs, neck, genitals, and the chest wall. While it is significantly less common, the worms can be found in specific organs in humans, such as the lungs.
In the case report of the Russian woman, doctors were able to surgically remove the worm and she recovered, physically. Mentally, she’ll never forget that she had a worm living inside of her face.
Medical experts agree this parasite is just another reason to do what you can to protect yourself from mosquito bites.