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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 46-48

Dermatobia hominis : A souvenir from Peru

Department of Dermatology, Universitary Hospital Kiel UKSH, Allergology and Venerology, Schittenhelmstraße 7, D-24105 Kiel, Germany

Date of Web Publication2-May-2014

Correspondence Address:
Matthias Buchner
Department of Dermatology, Universitary Hospital Kiel UKSH, Allergology and Venerology, Schittenhelmstraße 7, D-24105 Kiel
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2319-7250.131843

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A 16-year-old female with a travel history to Peru and a developing subcutanous mass previously misdiagnosed as an abscess presented in our out-patient clinic. Upon inspection a parasite was detectable at a small entrance-channel on top of the lesion. We removed the parasite after local anesthesia. It was recognized as a Dermatobia hominis larva. A sequencing analysis was also performed to confirm the exact dipteran subspecies. Infestations with D. hominis are fairly common in tropical America but rather unknown to physicians in the northern hemisphere, although they comprise up to 10% of imported diseases from overseas. A travel history and a failure of antibiotic treatment are hallmarks that led to the correct diagnosis in previous reports. As world-wide travels become even more common a detailed travel history is mandatory to consider non-resident pathogens as possible cause of diseases.

Keywords: Dermatobia hominis , paediatric dermatology, travel history

How to cite this article:
Buchner M, Foelster-Holst R. Dermatobia hominis : A souvenir from Peru. Indian J Paediatr Dermatol 2014;15:46-8

How to cite this URL:
Buchner M, Foelster-Holst R. Dermatobia hominis : A souvenir from Peru. Indian J Paediatr Dermatol [serial online] 2014 [cited 2021 Jan 15];15:46-8. Available from: https://www.ijpd.in/text.asp?2014/15/1/46/131843

  Introduction Top

Here we present a case of a common disease in a much defined area of the world, namely tropical America. It is crucial in a more and more mobile society to be aware of not only the resident parasites and pathogens, but also those of popular travel destinations.

  Case report Top

The present case report is about a 16-year-old female in good overall health was presented by her parents with a cutaneous nodular lesion over the right scapula in our out-patient ward. She returned from a several month stay in Peru 4 weeks earlier. Due to occasional bleeding discharge she covered the lesion with a small plaster.

Upon inspection a small pore with 4 mm diameter was identified and immediately after plaster removal a small part of a parasite showed for a short moment [Figure 1]. Attempts of removing the insect with forceps failed and subsequently an excision was planned. Upon subcutaneous infiltration with local anesthesia (mepivacain 0.1%) the larva emerged far enough for removal with forceps [Figure 2] and [Figure 3].
Figure 1: Clinical presentation after removal of plaster

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Figure 2: After subcutaneous anesthesia the larva left the opening far enough to be picked with forceps

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Figure 3: The larva split in two parts during removal: The stem (left) and rectum and spiracle (right)

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Subsequently we treated the lesion with octenidin 0.1% disinfection and prescribed oral flucloxacillin over 7 days preventing secondary infection.

After 3 weeks only a minimal residual scarring remained [Figure 4].
Figure 4: At 4 weeks after initial presentation

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For detailed diagnostics of the larva a photograph was sent to the Zoologic Institute of the local University were it was instantly recognized as a Dermatobia hominis larva. The Zoologic Institute of Munich performed a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) -analysis and confirmed the sequenced Co1-Gene of this larva to be 100% identical with the D. hominis - reference in the BOLD-database.

  Discussion Top

Infestations with larval states of dipterans are fairly common in tropical and subtropical regions and may be due to a variety of species. [1] D. hominis infestations from South- and Central-America are a source of about 10% of imported diseases of far-distance travellers. [2],[3]

In the initial stage this form of infestation can be easily misdiagnosed as an abscess, unless a detailed travel history is taken or antibiotic therapy failed. [4],[5]

The keen physician has to consider also other parasitic infections upon inspection, such as tungiasis, more common in Africa, or ictus reactions to anthropoids. [6]

The life-circle of D. hominis begins as an egg laid on the abdomen of a hematophagial insect, e.g. a mosquito. During the bloodsucking of the mosquito the larvae hatches and can penetrate the skin along the stitch. During the 4-8 weeks of larval stage a porus is kept to the surface of the skin to provide air and for removal of excrements. In the next stage, the larva lets itself fall to the ground and pupates. After a few days the adult fly hatches. [4]

Diagnostic means such as computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound or dermatoscopy have been described in the literature. These examinations have been performed mostly due to wrong initial diagnoses and provide only minimal practical benefit. [7] For exact designation of the larval subspecies a PCR and gen-sequencing should be performed in an Institute for Parasitology and Entomology, [1],[5] though for pure clinical work-up it might be enough to know the species which most probably can be identified by an experienced entomologist on sight.

Diagnostic and therapeutic procedure of choice is the removal of the larva in one piece by subcutaneous injection of local anesthetics (e.g. mepivacain, lidocain) or a lavage with 1% ivermectin solution. Ultima ratio is the surgical incision. [8]

A local antiseptic treatment afterwards is strictly speaking not necessary due to the clean environment the larva maintains in its cave, but still recommendable to facilitate undelayed wound healing.

As a take home message we hope to increase your awareness on abscesses that do not respond to antibiotic therapy, take a travel history and insist on identifying the underlying cause. In case of D. hominis infestations these can be non-traumatically removed and should be presented to an entomologist for designation.

  Acknowledgment Top

The Authors would like to thank Prof. Böckele, Kiel (Germany) and Dipl-Biol. Jerome Moriniere and Mr. Doczkal from the "Zoologische Staatssammlung München", Munich (Germany) for their contribution.

  References Top

1.Otranto D, Stevens JR. Molecular approaches to the study of myiasis-causing larvae. Int J Parasitol 2002;32:1345-60.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Clyti E, Pages F, Pradinaud R. Update on Dermatobia hominis: South American furuncular myiasis. Med Trop (Mars) 2008;68:7-10.  Back to cited text no. 2
3.Caumes E, Carrière J, Guermonprez G, Bricaire F, Danis M, Gentilini M. Dermatoses associated with travel to tropical countries: A prospective study of the diagnosis and management of 269 patients presenting to a tropical disease unit. Clin Infect Dis 1995;20:542-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
4.Maier H, Hönigsmann H. Furuncular myiasis caused by Dermatobia hominis, the human botfly. J Am Acad Dermatol 2004;50:S26-30.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Varani S, Tassinari D, Elleri D, Forti S, Bernardi F, Lima M, et al. A case of furuncular myiasis associated with systemic inflammation. Parasitol Int 2007;56:330-3.  Back to cited text no. 5
6.Ter-Nedden J. Dermatomyiasis. Aktuelle Dermatol 2012;38:455-6.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Vijay K, Kalapos P, Makkar A, Engbrecht B, Agarwal A. Human botfly (Dermatobia hominis) larva in a child's scalp mimicking osteomyelitis. Emerg Radiol 2013;20:81-3 .  Back to cited text no. 7
8.McIver SB, Dutta PC, Freeman RS. Cutaneous myiasis by Dermatobia hominis. Can Med Assoc J 1971;104:771.  Back to cited text no. 8


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]


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