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1. Posted by Jacobuh (Budding Member 10 posts) 10y

I've done some health research for my trip and I learned of a certain insect whose Larva burrows underneath your skin for incubation called the Botfly. I read up on remove (some of which are questionable)

What I would like to know is this parasite common in South America? What are my chances of this happening? Any advice or recommendations on avoiding it?

Thanks all!

2. Posted by Belize Me (Full Member 137 posts) 10y

Hi,
We have botflies in Canada. They are troublesome mostly to farm animals/horses here and I'm not sure that they are the same botflies that you are speaking about, but here is what I know about them.

The adult flies (they look a little bit like bumble bees) lay their eggs on the legs of animals. The adult flies secrete a sticky substance along with the eggs that make them adhere like super glue. The eggs and secretion are irritating and make the animal's legs extremely itchy. In order to rid themselves of the itch, the animals lick and bite at the eggs which causes a lot of the eggs to be ingested. The larvae hatch in the stomach of the host animal and can actually eat holes in the stomach and intestines if a lot of them are present. They don't bite by the way and they don't sting.

It is recommended that the eggs be removed before the animals are able to ingest them. Most people 'shave'them off the hair/skin with a straight razor or special knife for this purpose.

If these are related to the flies that you are speaking about, then I guess the above recommendation holds and if they aren't, I'm sure it would be beneficial to remove them from your skin. I would make sure to take a loofah with you...you probably wouldn't want to spend that much time shaving your arms and legs!

Enjoy your holiday and stay safe!
Belize Me

3. Posted by DocNY (Respected Member 403 posts) 10y

There are a couple of parasites which do simillar things to what you are talking about - including bots, screwworm, and hookworm. Hookworm infestation manifests as a skin disease in humans but is fairly self limiting - you get it from walking barefoot on sandy soil such as beaches where dogs (or cats) go (ever wonder why many beaches prohibit animals?). The parasite causes skn issues but is limited in most cases as to how much damage they can do - a more serious version of this occurs when the larve migrate into deeper tissue especially the viscera but it's pretty rare.

Screwworm (Cochliomyia hominivorax)is the most dangerous of all the infections and its been eradicated in much of north and central america already. Basically it occurs when a fly of the genus Cochliomyia hominivorax lays eggs in a wound in the skin and the eggs hatch to eat the surrounding tissue causing great pain and infection within the host. It's not common at all and the last cases I've ever heard of with it were in the Amazon when wounds were not treated, cleaned or bandaged.

Insect repellant and good hygene are as always your best defense and unless you head to some really remote parts of south america it shouldn't be a bug (er... big) deal...

really don't worry much about it unless you are planning a serious inland expedition.