A 32-year-old woman from Russia sought medical help after she discovered a strange lump near her eye that itched and burned. At first the lump was near the bottom of her eye but after a few days it moved towards the top of her eyelid where it caused the skin to swell up. After another ten days the lump then migrated down towards her lip where it caused massive swelling that caused pain and discomfort.
It was only after medics confirmed their suspicions that it was revealed to the poor woman that the lump was in fact a parasitic worm that was burrowing around under her skin.
The woman revealed to doctors that she had recently visited a rural part of Moscow and was repeatedly bitten by mosquitos while staying there. This helped tip the doctors off as to the potential culprit and they soon found a small “nodule” under the skin. Under some local anaesthesia they easily found the worm and removed it from the woman’s face.
Doctors later identified the worm as a type of filarial worm which is a parasitic organism transmitted via mosquito bite. If left untreated the worm can cause medical complications such as blindness and elephantiasis (abnormal swelling of the limbs).
A woman in Russia had a live worm removed from her face after going to the doctor about a lump that had migrated from her eye area to her lip https://t.co/f7lSuxi0JT— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) June 22, 2018
During the worm’s lifetime, which can be up to 8 years, it will live or just under a person’s skin and can reproduce asexually (i.e. there only needs to be one of the buggers) and release millions of its offspring into the affected’s blood stream. As a parasite the worm will get everything it needs from the host organism, including food and shelter.
In this instance the woman is quite lucky that the infection was caught quickly. Worldwide the infection is a common cause of blindness and it’s estimated that around 800 million people are infected by the worms.
However, despite the shocking nature of this case it’s not as rare as you might think (or hope). Thousands of people in Russia and Belarus have Filarius worms removed every year because of how prolific mosquitos and their infectious bites are.
Because, somehow, mosquitos found a whole new way of being gross and unpleasant.