Woman discovers flesh-eating maggots in her brain after holiday to Peru
Published 16/07/2013 | 17:14
A woman has spoken of her horror at discovering she had picked up flesh-eating maggots from her holiday to Peru, which had burrowed into her ear.
Rochelle Harris, 27, from Derby, started to get blinding headaches after she returned from her trip.
She thought nothing of it, but within hours she had developed excruciating shooting pains down one side of her face and had started to hear strange scratching sounds in her head.
She became so concerned she went to hospital, where doctors thought it could be a minor ear infection.
However, she was referred to the ear nose and throat (ENT) team for further investigation to rule out a more sinister problem.
Miss Harris said that as her ear was being examined, the ENT specialist fell silent.
Miss Harris said: "My Mum asked her 'Can you see what it is?' and the doctor said 'If you don't mind I'd prefer to speak to the registrar before I tell you anything'.
"My Mum said 'Please tell us' and that's when the doctor said 'You've got maggots in your ear'. I burst into tears instantly."
She was then given an emergency brain scan to find out how many there were and if they had done any damage.
There was a risk that they were migrating through her head. If one reached her brain it could cause meningitis, fatal bleeding and if one ate through her facial nerve she might be left facially paralysed.
It showed that no damage had been done to Miss Harris's ear drum, blood vessels or facial nerve.
But they discovered that the maggots had chewed a 12mm hole into her ear canal.
Doctors then tried to drown them by flooding the ear canal with olive oil.
"I had to stay and wait overnight to see if the treatment worked," said Miss Harris. "It was the longest few hours of my life. I just wanted them out of me. Knowing what was causing the sensations and sounds made it all the worse."
The maggots had all somehow managed to survive and when surgeons explored her ear using a microscope and speculum they were shocked to discover that eight of them had managed to push their way through the ear.
Rochelle said she remembered walking through a swarm of flies when in Peru and a fly had got inside her ear. But once she had shooed it away she thought nothing more of it.
She said she has suffered no long-term side-effects.