Migrating bump on woman's face turned out to be a worm

The mysterious

The lumps occasionally caused an itching or burning sensation, according to a case report in the New England Journal of Medicine, but otherwise weren't painful or causing any other symptoms.

The nodule later reappeared on the upper lip.

Kind of horrifyingly, the lump turned out to be a parasitic worm living under the skin on her face. They typically choose cats, dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes and sea lions to live inside.

Doctors say the worms are not trying to use humans as a host. Adult females are usually 100-170 mm long by 460-650 µm wide; males are usually 50-70 mm long by 370-450 µm wide. In subcutaneous tissue, the female worms are capable of producing microfilariae in peripheral blood 3. After ingestion, the microfilariae develop in the mosquito's midgut and 8. can infect another definitive host when the mosquito takes a blood meal 9.

Specifically, the woman had a parasitic worm, whose movement she tracked in selfies.

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Filarial worms can cause infections such as elephantiasis - in which the parasite gets into the lymph nodes and causes parts of the body to swell up to massive proportions - or river blindness, so-called because it is spread by flies which breed in streams and rivers. "A parasite was fixed with forceps and removed surgically". Subsequent genetic tests identified the worm as a Dirofilaria repens. Cases have been reported around the globe, particularly in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that D. repens are not found in the U.S., but the country does harbor relatives D. immitis, which cause heartworm disease in dogs, and D. tenuis, which affect raccoons.

The worms can live for up to eight years and, during their life time, release millions of larvae into the blood.

According to Rostov State Medical University's Dr. Vladimir Kartashev, who treated the woman, there have been over 4,000 cases of humans being infected with Dirofilaria repens since 1997 in Russian Federation and Ukraine. Doctors sometimes call this "creeping eruption". Still, rare cases have seen them find their way into eyes, lungs, and genitals.

A 2015 study in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases found records of 1,272 cases of infection in Russian Federation and Belarus between January 1997 and June 2013. In the woman's case, "It took not more than 15 minutes", Kartashev said.

When doctors opened up her face, they found a Dirofilaria repens. "After removal of the worm, the patient had a full recovery", Kartashev and Simon wrote.

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