a bug you don’t want to catch

Very little creeps me out, but this Reuters story is the sort of thing that can.

A 13-year-old Indian boy has begun producing winged beetles in his urine after hatching the eggs in his body…. Doctor Chittaranjan Maity, Medical Education Director of West Bengal state where the boy is from, said doctors found the beetles while examining him for pain in the groin area.

“Doctors were really surprised to see the beetles,” he told Reuters. “There are eggs of the beetle in a fistula in his body and he is getting medical treatment to try to kill the eggs,” Maity said.

The boy had been taken to hospital Sunday after complaining of pain while urinating.

The beetles–more than half a centimeter in length–belong to the Staphylinidae rove beetle family of insects. Most types are predators but some feed on fungi, algae and decaying plant matter.

During my early teenage years, I was stroking the family cat, when I noticed a soft swelling on her side. I called my dad in, and he determined that she had a warble–the name for both the larva of the parasitical warble fly and the swelling that it creates under the skin of an animal as it grows. Warble flies usually lay their eggs on the skins of large mammals like cattle, horses and deer; when the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow under the skin where they migrate beneath the muscle, usually to the esophagus or spinal canal where they remain dormant during the winter; in spring they migrate back closer to the surface of the skin where they mature. This was already a mature larva under our cat’s skin; while I held the cat, my dad punctured the swelling with a needle, and abruptly and startlingly the worm-like larva popped right out. It was one of the most frightening and disturbing things I’d ever witnessed to that point.

Since then, the idea of being infested by something that eats its way out of my body has been one of–not “fear,” precisely, since I don’t think of such an event as being terrifically likely to the point of giving it much conscious thought–discomfort, but with a simultaneous, perverse interest when reading of such cases or similar medical oddities, like bezoars and fetus in fetu (parasitic twin).

3 thoughts on “a bug you don’t want to catch

  1. Eww. I shouldn’t be squeamish about stuff like this by now; I abstract lots of public-health journal articles (especially covering developing countries) for work, but still. EWW! 😉

  2. Ok,
    I’m really afraid I may have night mares now. Just as I was reading your post a moth flew on my arm. I screamed.
    What happened to the cat?

  3. Oh, the cat was fine. In fact, she lived for many years after that, to the ripe old age of about 18 or so.
    The growth and movement of the larva is irritating and sometimes painful, but apparently only rarely more seriously damaging.

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