What Doctors Found On Woman's Face Is Horrifying
A recent case report in the New England Journal of Medicine details a woman's experience with a mysterious lump that kept moving under her skin, which she diligently documented in selfies. The unnamed woman, 32, noticed a small bump beneath her left eye after visiting a rural area outside Moscow. Over the course of a few weeks, the lump relocated above her eye and then caused her upper lip to bulge.
Concerned, she sought medical help, and doctors eventually used forceps to extract the culprit: a parasitic worm known as Dirofilaria repens. Dr. Vladimir Kartashev, a professor of medicine at Rostov State Medical University who treated the patient, explained that the parasite had a unique ability to appear and disappear within minutes, making it difficult for unfamiliar doctors to believe patients' accounts. To overcome skepticism, Dr. Kartashev asked the woman to capture selfies of the migrating lump.
While this particular case was rare, Dr. Kartashev had encountered similar presentations in at least ten other patients. He described the migrating form of the parasite as highly confusing. Dirofilaria repens is commonly found in dogs and other carnivores, typically entering the human body through mosquito bites, making humans "accidental hosts" according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Jorgen Kurtzhals, a professor at the University of Copenhagen and Copenhagen University Hospital, and president of the World Federation of Parasitologists, explained that although the worm rarely causes diseases in humans, it can manifest as lumps under the skin or, in rarer cases, be found in the eye, lung, breast, or male genitals. In an extreme case documented in 2009, a strain of the parasite even led to meningoencephalitis, inflammation of the brain and its surrounding membranes.
Typically, D. repens causes no serious harm to humans, though it poses a threat to dogs. Dr. Kurtzhals emphasized that people should not be overly alarmed, as contracting this worm is still a very rare occurrence despite reports suggesting an increase in cases. The usual treatment involves surgically removing the parasite through a small incision, a procedure that took approximately 15 minutes in the woman's case.
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