We just happened to be telling our children about the botfly that I got from Belize. I thought I would go to the net and look it up. I got your story. Thanks for vindicating the pain and such that I went through. I am from South Dakota, definitely not the botfly capital of the world, and married to a dermatologist. Thankfully mine was in my back and not in the nether regions and only 1 larva. I finally had way more than enough wine and squeezed it out. It hit the mirror I was looking at and started to squirm. Due to my wife being a derm we knew about these critters, but she was still in denial until I showed it to her. We still have it saved in a test tube.
Thanks for the web site! Botfly victims united!
August 07, 2002
A couple of weeks ago my 16 year old son returned from the Jungle in Peru. He has a lump on his head with a whole it drains blood some puss. 3 doctors have looked at it and told us they don’t know what it is. Tonight I applied warm compress and gentle pressure have been doing this for a week.) and all of a sudden the whole look like it got bigger and this live thing shot out and landed on me. We put it in a bottle.
It is still moving. My husband had a read an article while my son was in Peru that mention botfly. So here I am on your page and thanks to your information I may get some sleep. I will take this with me to the doctor in the morning. I can’t thank you enough!!! He also complains of the area around his ear hurting. Any extra Information would be most helpful!!!!!
July 4, 2002
Thank you for all of your help!! This morning at the clinic I asked the one physician who speaks the best English if it was a bot fly, and she didn’t think it was. She said there was no wormy looking larvae in it, and that it is probably a bacterial infection. All of my symptoms have been very similar to what you described as being the bot fly though. Yesterday a big core squeezed out and it seems to be getting much better ever since. Actually today it feels great and has reduced in size alot, I can actually touch it with out being in pain. I guess if it is a bot fly it will remain a mystery, I am just glad it is healing so I can enjoy my last few weeks in Costa Rica, I have had a wonderful time. Even the bot fly wouldn’t stop me from coming back. Thanks again for all of your help.
Feb. 24, 2002
I feel for you, especially since you and the wife had to endure the stupid arrogance of doctors who won’t let you help them out. I came home with 8 in my back (From Belize, by a lake) out of which 7 were extracted by following the traditional method of “airtight” goop suffocation followed be popping them out. My boyfriend became excellent at it, bless his heart, and was trying to let the doctors know as they insisted on digging for the last one themselves. Now I have a nice size scar on my back. Not to mention, the last bot fly…. boyfriend got that one out as well after it burrowed even deeper, escaping the scalpel.
All in all it’s a good drinking story.
Feb. 24, 2002
Hi! My name is Maya Almaraz and I am a freshman at the University of California, Berkeley. In January I went on a trip to Belize as part of a research team out of UC Davis. We were trapping and tagging spinney pocket mice and other small rodents in the rainforest to study their relation to seed dispersal and germination. I have been back for about a month and today. I found out my friend and I both have beefworms (botflies). I had seen doctors twice before and was told it was an infected mosquito bite and given antibiotics. Both times I had specifically asked if it was botflies because while on our trip a man staying with us had a couple in his head and had a friend squeeze them out at the dinner table for him, that image stayed with me. So after seeing a tropical disease specialist I found I have three. They are in no way the size of a goose egg, but big enough to feel. I was told I need surgery (even though I have heard the raw meat theories) and wondering how long it was before Mark finally got his professional treatment and how urgent treatment is for me and my friend. Thanks a bunch and I hope to hear from you soon.
Feb. 14, 2002
Thank you so much for your thorough review of the Bot Fly. I am a family physician in Bellingham WA. I work at an Urgent Care Center. Today I saw a 24 year old male who had traveled to Costa Rica 3 weeks ago. He remembered being bit by a mosquito on the left calf one night while sitting on the beach. Two sites became itchy and eventually each formed indurate papules with a 1mm umbilicated center. The persistence of the lesions combined with their waxing and waning pain and itching motivated him to come see me.
Admittedly I wasn’t sure what was going on. Two days ago I treated him with an antibiotic figuring these were boils. But today the patient said it felt like something was moving. One thing lead to another and I cleaned and numbed up his leg and got the larva out of one site. I didn’t know what it was but I knew that I had seen it before. After exhausting all the texts where I thought I had seen this, I went to the internet. A search on “subcutaneous larva Costa Rica” led me to your site. What a resource! I have forwarded the link to the patient. He is excited to have the information. I did not attend to the second site today. He wants to try the meat treatment tonight. Thank you for your site. The information has helped a very grateful, if not understandably repulsed, 24 year old male. The information has made me look like I know what I’m doing (always a goal in the doctor biz). Total time from excision to diagnosis thanks to your site: around 3 hours. I appreciate your having the “balls” to share. This is truly a representation of the value of the internet.
Jan. 24, 2002
I am originally from Belize, Central America, and a few years ago I went back to Belize to visit and I was bitten by a botfly, and it was a very strange experience for me because I lived in Belize for twenty years of my life and was never bitten by one but I have heard of other people that worked in the jungle have and also my late father had been bitten when he was working in the bush, he was a sawmill owner, so he was always in the jungle. and so years later when I was bitten I was not sure if this was just a mosquito bite or what because I was not in the bush/jungle but I was on a boat traveling down river, but I wondered why my mosquito bite was not getting better, I noticed the spot was very irritated and oozing and started to feel a biting I tried to take care of it on my own and I thought it will get better eventually and it did not, I one night noticed that when I squeezed it! s! something pulled back in, I saw a head and that is when I screamed out and I told my husband to take me to the hospital because this was something live inside of me and pretty freaky, off we went to the hospital and the doctor was freaked out by this asked where I got this he has never seen anything like this before and said that it may have to be removed surgically and he told me to call the science museum of Chicago and find out what this was and I did and they had no idea but they were curious about it and told me that when I get it removed to please contact them again but this is what I did; if you want to know more about this please reply: Is the suspense getting to you!!! D
More from D regarding how her botfly was removed.
Jan. 26, 2002
Hello again, well as the story continues regarding the botfly. I called a friend of mine from Belize and told her my situation with the botfly and she told me that her mother had some knowledge of what this could be and I called her mother right away and told her my story and so she said that she would help me; my husband took me over to her house and my friend’s mom told me to lie down and that she will drip hot wax into the hole and that she will squeeze the area as hard as she can and cannot let go until the bug comes out and it certainly did, it hurt a lot ,it was about an inch long , with hair and looked well nourished (smile) she said oh my gosh why did you wait so long because this thing was so big already, anyway I saved it and I put it inside a jar along with some preservative so that the Science museum had told me to do and I was to meet this guy from the museum to give it! t! o him but that never happened so I still have it here at home with me and I often take it out and show it at parties and it freaked everyone out, pretty weird huh! Then a couple years after that my husband went diving with his brother to Belize went to San Pedro Ambergris Caye and he came back with one in his arm but we had our experience already and we were able to take it out of his arm by just squeezing the area and his was just a long black string, freaky! Anyway that’s my story, if you want to know more about Belize feel free to ask, take care, D
January 6, 2003
Brenda and Mark,
I returned from Belize in mid-November. The upper lobe of my right ear started itching about two weeks later, and sharp pain followed the first
week in December. I went to my GP, told him of my travels (not remembering any particularly nasty bites), and he told me I had a bacterial infection. A shot and course of antibiotics followed with no improvement. A week later I was back, but this time the Doc says it must be the Shingles. Anti-viral medication was started, and in three days lab tests came back negative. But believe it or not, after two days on anti-viral, the sharp pains were gone. I took the medication for four days, and was off for another four days when the pain returned. Back to the Doctor. This time he wants to refer me for a biopsy to rule out cancer. I got him to give me another weeks worth of the anti-viral, and called an Ear Nose and Throat specialist myself. It took me two weeks to get in due to the holidays, and by my appointment (January 3 ), I was enduring longer and more frequent bouts of pain (Seems to me the little guy was more active at night). The Specialist took one look and said whatever it is we need to drain it and clean it out. So on Saturday the fourth, a short six weeks after returning from Belize, the Doc cut me open and pulled out what appeared to be a blood clot, until it moved. Instant relief. Still can’t explain why the anti-viral took the edge off the pain though. All in all an interesting experience for someone who did undergraduate work in entomology, specializing in agricultural insect pest control in California. My colleagues will never let me live this one
Jan. 14, 2003
Wanted to write and thank you for your website. I went to Belize in December ’02 and came back with a bite that wouldn’t heal. Finally decided to make an appointment with a doctor and the botfly must’ve heard me because this very morning I was able to pull it out (painfully!) It was about 1″ long. I was severely grossed out and of course have never seen anything like this in my life. Googling ‘worm, skin and bore’ I came up with screw worms and botflies which eventually led me to your site.
So now I am armed with info from your site that I will bring to my doctor anyway in case there is infection.
Thanks again for hosting the site, its an invaluable resource. It also appears that Belize is one of the more popular hangouts for these creatures from your reader feedback.
Jan. 18, 2003
Thank you for sharing Mark’s botfly experience: the pain, humor, lyrics, native remedies, and medical experience and information. If only I’d known of your website sooner I might have saved myself weeks of medical mystery. It was only after the my little companion was determined to be a botfly larvae that I talked to my sister Abi who has spent a lot of time traveling in the remote regions of Central and South America. She was quite familiar with bot flies and turned me on to your website. So here’s my story.
In mid November 2002 my wife Bonnie and I spent a week traveling in Costa Rica. We were a few days at Arenal and vicinity and a few days on the beaches of the Pacific coast. Arenal volcano was spectacular and our guide kept reiterating how fortunate we were to see it; for most of the time it is hidden in the clouds.
About three weeks after we got home [Boston area] from a relaxing week of hiking, exploring, and lounging on the beach I noticed a sore on the shin of my right leg. I had no idea how it got there; no recollection of scrapes or bruises. It was itchy and looked a bit like a bug bite that has been scratched. The surrounding area was red. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but two weeks later when it still hadn’t healed and was clearly infected I started getting concerned and went to see a dermatologist. He prescribed an antibiotic cream and antibiotic pills. I delayed taking the antibiotic pills because of a concern about drug interactions with the immunosuppressant medications I am as the result of a kidney transplant two years ago. It took me nearly a week to reach the doctor again to get clarification about the safety of his prescription. [ It didn’t help that all of this was happening over the Christmas and New Years week when doctors are notoriously inaccessible]. All this time the sore was getting worse and oozing almost constantly. In addition to the itching that I had at the beginning, I had throughout occasional sharp stinging pains usually of only a second or two duration.
On the night of January 3rd the pains were frequent and intense keeping me awake for a good part of the night. By noon the next day, Saturday Jan. 4th, my whole right leg below the knee was extremely inflamed and very red and hot. We headed to the emergency room at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The doctors there, knowing that I was a transplant patient on immunosuppressant drugs, took one look at me and said I needed to stay in the hospital and be on intravenous antibiotics to clear up what they called cellulites. I spent five days there on the IV with my legs elevated as much as I could tolerate. After the five days they sent me home with a PICC line in my arm and automated infusion pump for another week of IV antibiotics. The nasty looking sore on my leg was clearing up, but I still had a quarter inch diameter crater on my leg to which each day I applied a dab of Bacitracin and a bandage.
You can only imagine my surprise when on last Thursday morning [Jan 16] I removed the bandage to find a worm crawling out of the hole in my leg. My wife was totally grossed out and swore she’d never go to a tropical country again. As I was getting ready to go to the hospital to have it removed, it fell out. I put it – still very alive and wiggling- in a small jar to take to my doctor. The worm [larvae] was a dirty white color about 3/16″ in diameter and 1/2 -3/4″ long. The doctor at first thought that it was a hookworm, but sent it out for analysis which determined that it was a botfly larvae.
The botfly is found throughout Central and South American. Part of its reproductive cycle requires living in the body of a warm blooded host [me]. The female [not wanting to take responsibility for its actions] lays its eggs on the belly of mosquitoes and other biting insects. When the mosquito bites a person, the person’s body heat is enough to cause a tiny larvae to hatch from one of the eggs. The larvae then burroughs into the body, leaving itself an air hole so that it can breath [and I can ooze]. After 6-8 weeks if left undisturbed the full grown larvae emerges in order to pupate and become a botfly and begin the life cycle all over again.
So, not only had I brought home from Costa Rica a souvenir I was unaware of, but in the process I got an unplanned for lesson in entomology.
January 27, 2003
Thanks for your time and efforts in constructing a comprehensive website devoted to Mark’s “twins”. After reading your story and knowing what we went through with our dog, I’m changing vets.
We recently moved to NC ~ the Smokey Mountains. Scenic this, lovely that, look at the woods, you know the ads. One Thursday night our Elkhound [dog] was licking her side constantly, enough to disturb our sleep and make us quite aggravated. After two days she had the fur/hair matted down pretty good. We then saw the “wound” and thought it was a b-b imbedded in her side. The wound was red, round, and raised it had an opening and was seeping. Of course this was now Sunday afternoon of a holiday weekend.
Our lively stealth guard dog was not herself. Mopy, dry nose and eyes. She didn’t raise her head when the squirrels teased her. I was positive she was shot, maybe buck shot infection/poisoning. She let me apply some drawing salve [pine tar] and gauze to the wound. By this time it was seeping steadily, very inflamed and very warm.
You’ve seen and heard it all, so I’ll cut to the chase. Monday afternoon I was able to squeeze the wound [must be a girl thing to squeeze things] after two squeezes you guessed it, the larvae came popping out. Put specimen into a container to bring to the vet on Tuesday.
He took one look at it and very professionally proclaimed oh, it’s just a wolf worm. Very common for this area ~ oh really. Then why couldn’t I find anything on the internet or vet reference books regarding a “wolf worm”? I threw that diagnosis into the trash with the “your beagle has mange and your other dog won’t get it” diagnosis. Beagle had “hot spots”, Elkhound had botfly larvae.
Animal Planet aired a special on parasites and we immediately identified the culprit in the lineup. Decided to do some internet learning and read of your plight. I’m not too sure I was glad to read of a human’s experience because I learned of the pain and agony our family pet endured. She’ll get a few extra treats tonight ~ she won’t know why, but I’ll feel better.
dan (at) harveyduckerson.com
February 3, 2003
Brenda and Mark,
Thanks to you and all your contributors, this site gave me a lot of comfort during my botfly ordeal. My wife and I traveled to Iguazu Falls in Northern Argentina this January where we had a great time viewing sites in this tropical area. I was hardly concerned when I noticed a few mosquito bites after a jeep safari into the rain forest. I expected they would disappear, and they did, except three bumps on my leg and one on my back. These were large bumps with an oozy hole in the top. Two weeks after the event I was able to push out of one of the bites what looked like the stinger end of a bee. This bump then started to heal rapidly. Three weeks into the event, I started to get sharp pains in the other bites. One morning I pressed hard on another bump and out came a live wiggling larva (what a freaky thing this is). I took the specimen to my doctor who correctly diagnosed the botfly larve and told me to smother the remaining two bites with Vaseline to cover the breathing hole, wait several hours, and then push them out. This worked! My wife gets the ‘top trooper’ award for assisting on the bite on my back. Its like remembering some bad Sci-Fi movie, but really there were no lasting side effects. Will I keep traveling? To South America? You betcha!
– D Snow
Email back to Dave….
You are so lucky to be able to squeeze them out & not have them cut out, not to even mention the fact that the Doctor knew what they were! Do you mind if I add your email to my website?
Thanks for sharing your story.
You are so right about the not having to have them removed. My doctor was so thrilled to have something new and exciting to do… I, on the other hand, just wanted them OUT. J
Please add me to the website, it helped me to see that there were several people that had to endure the ordeal.
Keep up the good work!
I emailed the botfly website to David Letterman show, hoping to get Mark an interview. Here is the rejection email from the Late Show with David Letterman.
Hey…you never know, it might have worked!
Thanks for bringing your husband’s interesting, uncomfortable and… amusing? Medical dilemma to our attention!
Unfortunately, we don’t feel we can feature him as a guest on our program. Nevertheless, we appreciate you thinking of the Late Show and wish you and your husband the best.
Late Show with David Letterman
March 21, 2003
I have another botfly story to add to your collection.
I had been on vacation in Belize with my boyfriend, Arch, from February 22 to March 3, 2003. When I returned to St. John’s, Newfoundland on Monday, March 3, 2003, I noticed a small bump on my left cheek, near my eye. It was slightly red and itchy and I thought it might be a mosquito bite or a zit. I had no recollection of being bitten. I carried on normally when I returned home, however, by March 9-10 the red spot was getting bigger, redder and more irritated. On Tuesday, March 11th I was driving home to lunch when I got an excruciating stabbing pain in the bump and it began to ooze a clear fluid. It was throbbing and red and swollen. I had read about the botfly in a book before I left for Belize and jokingly thought whatever the bump was about to hatch!! It didn’t hatch but I did call my family doctor and made an immediate appointment for that afternoon. When he examined my face he diagnosed it as a bite that had gotten infected and to which I had an allergic reaction. I made sure to tell him I had just returned from Belize and the length of time I had been there. He prescribed the antibiotic Cipro
I took the Cipro however had an allergic reaction almost immediately. I called my family doctor the following day and he prescribed another
antibiotic, Ceftin for a period of 7 days. I began taking that but did not notice any difference in the bump on my face. On Thursday, March 14 we were having a baby shower for my sister-in law. I spent most of the night with a tissue to my face as I was assaulted with these stabbing pains and fluid continued to leak out of the bump. As the weekend came on, the bump continued to grow, it became redder, my face became swollen from my eye to my chin and the stabbing pains continued. The bump looked like a volcano – raised, round, with a hole in the center. It continued to ooze fluid that was mostly clear but sometimes a bloody brown or black. I even tried a bread poultice to try and draw out what I believed to be an infection. It didn’t work.
By the week of March 17, the bump was beginning to bleed spontaneously. I would be sat at my desk at work or driving in the car and I would feel blood flowing down my face. The stabbing pains continued and became worse at night. I called the clinic I had attended for shots prior to my trip to Belize and explained the problem to them. They suggested that I consult an infectious disease specialist however I needed a referral from my family doctor. I returned to my family doctor and explained to him that I thought it might be a botfly that was causing the bump on my face – he told me I was watching too much Star Trek!! I asked him send me to an infectious disease specialist and he said he wanted to “give it another shot.” He called the infectious disease specialist and explained that I had an abscess on my face. The specialist recommended some antibiotic in 500 mg tablets – two tablets, four times a day. I took the tablets for 24 hours and my face actually got worse. The swelling was so pronounced that my eyelid was drooping and felt as if it was beginning to shut. My face looked like I had had a tooth pulled. The bump was still oozing fluid of various colors spontaneously and it was still bleeding with the stabbing pain. On the afternoon of March 19 my office assistant, Cora, came into my office and said she didn’t want to scare me but she had been researching the botfly on the internet and was reading stories off your website and the symptoms being described were identical to the symptoms I had been describing. I had been pretty calm for the last 2 weeks but when I read the symptoms and saw that they were exactly what I was experienced I started to feel a little freaked out. I called my family doctor again who told me not to panic, that it took antibiotics 48 hours to work and I should wait to see what they would do. I explained how I had taken antibiotics for a week with no difference in the symptoms and since taking the new drugs, my face had actually gotten worse. He told me if I was still worried to come in at the end of the week.. At more prodding from my colleagues ( who were completely
grossed out by the bump and convinced it was the botfly) I went to the emergency department of one of the city hospitals armed with the literature from your website.
At the hospital, myself and my friend Cheryl, explained to the nurse what we thought it was. To my surprise, she didn’t call in a psych. consult but actually seemed to believe us. Then to our surprise, a friend of ours who is a surgeon showed up. He immediately took out a syringe to aspirate the bump to see if there was any infection and of course there wasn’t any. The E.R. doctor had a look at it, squeezed it a little until I told him he could squeeze away as the bump itself wasn’t painful, just the inflamed area around it. They concluded that these two factors, no discharge or tenderness, indicated that there was no infection. We discussed the literature we had brought with us, the doctors consulted a medical journal and then said they thought we had correctly diagnosed it. I had also brought some literature from a physician in Canada who wrote on his experience with the botfly and how he had surgically removed the larva. So Mr. Surgeon takes me into the O.R. and before I know it my face is deadened and he’s making an incision to find the creepy little guy. He fished around for a period of time and I was getting concerned that maybe we hadn’t correctly diagnosed it when he suddenly said “my God – you were right!!” and pulled the maggot out and dropped into the bottle Cheryl was holding (she was quite the assistant!). He continued to root around for a period of time to make sure Fred (as we christened him) wasn’t a twin and didn’t have any roommates or that we hadn’t left part of Fred behind!! Fortunately there were no more and I was stitched up with 2 stitches located just to the side of my eye. I had a good look at the little guy – who was still moving – and he was identical to the pictures on the websites – white, with 3 stripes that are actually spiny hooks, what looked to be a tail but what we think might have been the breathing tube and 2 little pincers at the front of him. My God, I can’t believe it was in me!! I felt immediate relief, both physically and mentally, the swelling around me eye immediately started to subside as did the inflammation. In any event, that was 2 days ago, it is now Friday March 21 and my face is 100% improved!! There is some swelling from the surgery but less than there was with the botfly and the pain and discomfort is gone, with the exception of the incision. And I am none the worse for the wear.
SO the question everyone keeps asking – would I go to Belize again?? Absolutely!! The chances of this happening appear to be slim, no one else I know who was there had any bites, so I’d certainly take the chance again. The whole experience does seem rather surreal and as the T-shirts proclaim, it was rather UNBELIZEABLE!!
Annette M. Conway
St. John’s, NFLD.
Brenda replied to her email, this was her response:
Thank you for replying. I also meant to put in my story that it was thanks to your website that I was able to identify definitively that it was indeed the botfly. I wanted to share my story as well so that maybe it might help other people who were uncertain as to what condition they had. And yes, my doctor is being sent the lab report on the botfly for my chart – which I think I will then be taking to a new physician. Again, thank you so much for having the foresight to start this website – you’ve undoubtedly helped more people than you’ll ever know.