the facts about vaginal myiasis

  • Vaginal myiasis is so rare that only a few case studies have explored this condition in humans.
  • This happens when the flies lay eggs in the vaginal area – the larvae which hatch and feed on the vaginal tissues.
  • Treatment for vaginal myiasis involves antibiotics and surgical removal of infected tissue.

You probably don’t have to worry about maggots taking up residence in your vagina, but this very rare condition, known as myiasis of the vagina, affects a handful of people.

Fly larvae cause this parasitic infection, which can lead to itching, injury, and death of vaginal tissue.

Two major factors increase your chances of developing this infection: open sores in the vaginal area and physical location.

Vaginal myiasis most commonly affects people living in tropical and subtropical climates, and most cases develop in the summer.

People who lack safe housing and adequate bathing facilities, or who live in poor sanitary conditions, are also more likely to suffer from vaginal myiasis, says Kimberly Langdon, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Medzino.

Only a few individual case studies have reported this condition in the human vagina, but experts know it is not sexually transmitted, despite a number of internet rumors suggesting otherwise.

Here are the facts about this rare disease.

How’s it going

Myiasis occurs when some species of flies lay their eggs near wounds or other moist openings in another animal’s body.

Female flies lay up to 300 eggs at a time in a warm, nutrient-rich environment – ​​in this case, the human vagina. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the host’s body, causing a series of infestations.

“It takes about 12 to 24 hours for the maggots to infiltrate the body, but the larvae can take four days to fully hatch,” says Aaron Gelfand, obstetrician and gynecologist at ChoicePoint.

These maggots mature into adult flies within a week and lay their own eggs in a similar environment, continuing the cycle.

Myiasis does not affect the human body very often – it is more common in cows, sheep and other farm animals.

However, cases of vaginal myiasis in men can affect your:

As stated above, one of the major risk factors for vaginal myiasis is open sores or sores in the genital area. Other medical conditions associated with chronic wounds, such as diabetes and peripheral vascular disease, can also increase your risk.

Signs and symptoms

First, you may notice a new, protruding bump in your vaginal or vulvar area that looks like an insect bite.

After a few days, the bump will grow larger and develop a pinpoint in the center, allowing the maggots to breathe when they hatch.

You may also notice movement of your skin over and around the bump, suggesting live maggots in the area.

While the rarity of this condition means that research remains limited, case studies cite the following symptoms:

  • New or unusual vaginal discharge, often accompanied by a foul odor
  • Severe itching in the vaginal and perineal area
  • Inflammation or swelling of the genital area
  • Fever
  • Vaginal bleeding and sores
  • Necrotic growth or death of vaginal tissue, which may appear as dark spots in the genital area
  • Severe pain or pain that increases over time in the genital area

Treatment

A doctor will usually begin treatment by surgically removing the larvae and dead tissue. After that, they will clean the infected area to make sure all the maggots are gone for good.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to stay in the hospital for a few days while you receive intravenous antibiotics to prevent any secondary infections. If you have milder symptoms, the doctor may send you home with a prescription for antibiotics and ivermectin.

Myiasis is not fatal, but without treatment it can lead to the death of more tissue and open sores in the genital area. These wounds and sores can increase your risk of STIs and affect your overall health.

Without medical intervention, maggots can also continue to grow in your body.

Insider’s Takeaways

Myiasis in humans, especially in the genital area, is extremely rare. If you think you have vaginal myiasis, your doctor can help you diagnose and treat this condition, usually with surgery and antibiotics.

Although research is still in its infancy, treatment and prevention are relatively straightforward. Cleaning open wounds and treating health conditions, like STIs, that could be contributing to myiasis will greatly reduce your chances of developing this already rare condition.

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