Do you know what a Human Botfly is?.......Well you will after reading this!

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Volcano Arenal

While viewing the very active volcano Arenal in the small town of La Fortuna in Costa Rica, Mark was bitten by a mosquito. This happened on November 24th, 2000 at night in the viewing area of Los Lagos.
Upon returning home from Costa Rica, Mark started to experience a strange pain in his scrotum. He finally mentioned it to me (his wife) & we talked about what it could be. Spider bite? Infected mosquito bite? Then I remembered reading something in the guide book from our 1st (honeymoon) trip about a weird bug in Costa Rica. The guide book Explore Costa Rica by Harry S. Pariser said.... "Botfly (Dermatobia hominis), whose larvae mature inside flesh. An egg-laden female botfly captures a night-flying female mosquito and glues her eggs on to it. When the mosquito is released and bites a victim, the host's body heat triggers an egg to hatch. It falls off and burrows in. The larva secures itself with two anal hooks, secreting an antibiotic into its burrow, which staves off competing bacteria and fungi. Its spiracle pokes out of the tiny hole, and a small mound forms which will grow to the size of a goose egg before the mature larva falls out. Should you be unfortunate enough to fall prey to a lava - an extremely unlikely occurrence for the average visitor - you have three cures available. One is to use the acrid white sap of the matatorsalo (bot killer), which kills the larva but leaves its corpse intact. Another is to apply a piece of soft, raw meat to the top of the airhole. As the maggot must breath, it burrows upward into the meat. A third is to apply a generous helping of Elmer's glue or cement to the hole. Cover this with a circular patch of adhesive tape; seal this tape with a final application of glue. Squeeze out the dead larva the next morning. The only other alternative is to leave it to grow to maturity, giving you an opportunity to experience the transmogrification of part of yourself into another creature. It only hurts when the maggot squirms and if you swim, presumably because you are cutting off its air supply. Don't try to pull it out because it will burst. Part of its body will remain inside and cause an infection." Thank you for adding that tidbit to your guide book Harry. (If we had not read that I am not sure what would have happened to Mark). Harry S. Pariser is the author of Explore Costa Rica & Explore Belize

I had even highlighted this information & remembered telling Mark" listen to this". Well since we are not the average visitor I knew this had to be what was bothering Mark. We tried the raw meat but guess the botfly didn't like the cut of meat Mark used as it didn't work. We then got on the internet for more information (it didn't look good) & found this site (below) & others to confirm in our minds that this is what the problem was.



The pain was not like the book described, Mark was getting bitten at random times. Mostly when he tried to sleep & different times at work. Since he is a great bearer of pain he decided to call UTMB (University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas) to see if anyone there wanted to do a case study on this rare occurrence. He was told to email the "WHO Collaborating Center for Tropical Diseases". He did so giving full detail as to what happened. Meanwhile, I made him a Drs appointment with our general Doc. This Doctor decided that Mark must have lice & gave him lice medicine. Meanwhile the botfly's got bigger & the biting worse. Customers even noticed it & said something to me. How do you explain?

Below are photos of Volcano Arenal in Costa Rica taken at the
Los Lagos Observatory where Mark was bitten by the botfly.

Volcano Arenal, Coast Rica

Volcano Arenal in Costa Rica

You can see the smoke clearing  off the top of Volcano Arenal as Mark (on the right) & Wendy watch it erupt. During the day you could see the larva smoke coming down but at night it was a spectacular show of red/orange glow.

To the left of Volcano Arenal you can see the destruction (notice the black area next to the trees) from the August 2000 eruption. Los Lagos closed their main campground and you can see how close the lava came by the water toys on the lake. We hiked around the 2 lakes...very pretty.

Mind you all this was going on during the Xmas season & the computer store was busier than ever. We were working on a Sunday (Dec. 17th, 2000) afternoon trying to get caught up when Mark went down on his knees in pain. It scared Cole & I so bad that I knew we had to get rid of these things somehow. I talked Mark into going to the emergency room where upon explaining to the attendant what was going on, a young guy sitting beside her said "I have heard of botfly's before"! We both asked him what he knew & where he had heard about botflys from. He told us that he heard about them on the Discovery Channel but didn't know much. Wish he had been a doctor!
Going to the emergency room I watched at the door as Mark laid on the examining table totally depressed. One lady Doc picked up Marks chart & said "I'm not touching that"! Hours later a Doc arrives & we tell him the story. He asked us "What other DR's are you seeing & are you on any kind of medication"? He then tells us he has to call in a urologist.  Meanwhile he goes to a computer & types in "botfly" I sneak up behind him & say......there is a lot more information on the net if you want me to show you where it is at! He turned to me in surprise & say's "no, the urologist is on his way from home". Enters Dr. Michael Rashid, MD Resident of Urology. He believes us but is skeptical. He sets up an appointment for the following Tue. AM. Meanwhile Mark is still experiencing terrible pain till the day of the appointment Dec 19th, 2000.
Dr. Gabriel Rodriguez, MD & Assistant Professor of Urology examines Mark & asked him to sign a consent form for photos. Off we go to the operating room where normally vasectomies are performed. I was allowed to be with Mark during the operation. After he was prepped (shaved & cleaned) they took photos of the sores. I didn't realize there where two spots. Dr. Rodriguez starts cutting, then tells Mark he has to go deeper into the tissue. Mark said he could see the surprised look on the Doc's face when he exclaims "It's alive"! He tells the attending nurse to get a container & drops the botfly larva into it. The nurse is checking it out when Mark tells him "I read on the internet that those things can jump 6 feet". He slams the lid on the container & sets it down! I pick it up & take it over to Mark. We watch this thing squirming as they close up the area it came out of & get ready for botfly  #2! This one is also alive & all we can think about is the movie Alien.

botflyla.jpg (9596 bytes)

This is a photo of the actual botfly larva removed from Mark.
Nasty looking critter isn't it?

botflyho.jpg (8889 bytes)

botflymo.jpg (8869 bytes)

This is a close up of the spines.

This is a photo of it's mouth.

The photos were taken by Stephen Higgs, Ph.D. with the Department of Pathology at UTMB.

When Mark came back to the office (yes, he came straight to work) after the surgery he had a email from the WHO Collaborating Center for Tropical Diseases. It said "his email was read by a professor experienced in this area at UTMB & he suggested Mark visit any competent dermatologist for appropriate evaluation and management. In addition, from your (Mark's) email there is no indication that research is required or that the problem is necessarily botfly-related."
Boy was Mark mad. He emailed them back letting them know what he had just been through & ended it with........."The only Botfly larva survivor you will ever know!"
One day Mark commented on how uncomfortable the stitches were. I told him "well now you have a little knowledge of  what child birth is like". His reply was "Yes, but I had twins"!
Mark has healed & is now doing fine. We have been the joke of customers & friends that have heard about the incident. We even had a special poem written to the version of ''Twas the Night Before Christmas. Written by Bryan Springer.

The Mark Johnstone Version of ''Twas the Night Before Christmas"

''Twas the week before Christmas, and boy was it neat.
We had been on vacation, and my wife was in heat.
The doors were all bolted, the phone off the hook,
It was time for some nooky, by hook or by crook.
Momma in her teddy and I in the nude,
Had just hit the bedroom and reached for the lube.
When out from my privates there arose such a cry,
That I lost my boner and thought I would die.
Up to the window I sprang like a very big flea,
The pain was so bad it stung like a bee.
I ran down the hall past the 'putter I'd built,
And looked in a mirror, clean up to the hilt.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an airhole in my scrotum - I said to her....Dear.
With two holes now seen, half out of my sock,
It's time for a phone call, right now to a Doc.
The first one I called, said I'd just lost my mind.
So I paid him his worth ... it was only a dime.
The next one I called said it was just a small mite
Sure as I'm speaking, he was high as a kite
All I had left was to lay there in pain
A cry in the night with nothing to gain
Then down the chimney came a big red guy
St. Nick I told him, it must be a fly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old prick,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of my dick.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had more problems to dread
Whoa Shithead he said - you are such a Putz,
Stop whining right now or I'll cut off your nuts.
A phone number he gave and a big bag of ice
He said call this Doc and he will be nice
He sprang up the chimney, to his team gave a whistle
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim boy "Don't bitch or don't pout"
"Merry Christmas to all and be glad they are all out!"

Botfly Joke of the day!

Your Honor, his name was Johnstone.
I swear that I didn't know he was taking the kids out of the country


To read Dr. Rodriguez & Dr. Rashid's reports, click here.

So if you take a trip to Costa Rica or any other country that has botflys you are well informed!
And NOT ask to see Marks stitches!
I have composed a website with all the emails received over the years. These are from folks that have traveled from home only to find upon returning (home) they too have been a victim of a botfly!  If you would like to read these stories then just click on the (botfly) icon below.

  Click   Click here to read other stories regarding botflys to read more botfly stories and hear the Botfly Song!


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