· brazil ·

It seems that I may have brought a little stowaway back with me from Brazil. A couple of weeks into the trip, I noticed that I had a small lump on the bottom of my left foot, between my big toe and second toe. That wasn't very surprising, because I am -- as I have said before -- a mosquito magnet, and had gathered a impressive collection of bites by that time. However, this one seemed a bit different.

[Squeamish readers, please look away now.]

The lump was clearly filled with fluid or pus, but had a distinct, dark spot about 3 mm across at its centre. It wasn't itchy or particularly sore, but as it got larger over the following days, it started to press into the sole of my foot uncomfortably as I walked. It was tempting to pop the blister with a sterile needle, but since I couldn't keep the area clean very easily, I decided against it. I kept plastering it with sticky, pink Germolene and cleaning it with antiseptic, and kept it covered with a plaster as much as possible.

When I got back to the UK, I made an appointment with my GP. She, and the two medical students with her (who were muttering darkly that they always got insect bites), were baffled. Rather than poke about without knowing what she was dealing with (a consideration I greatly appreciated), she called a consultant in Infectious Diseases. The upshot was that the consultant thought it might be some kind of burrowing insect, possibly the human bot fly. The larvae of this delightful species burrow into the skin of humans then spend the next 8 weeks developing in their cosy space before emerging to pupate and later emerge as an adult fly. Biologically interesting, to be sure, but not the kind of biologically interesting thing I want going on in my own body.

The lump is deflating now, but the black spot is still there, which suggests that the larva (if it is a larva and not something harmless like a splinter) is probably dead. This isn't necessarily a good thing, because it's likely to get infected. I've got an appointment with the consultant next week, so hopefully whatever it is will get properly evicted. I'm surprised that I haven't been more horrified by the whole thing. It is actually quite interesting, and apart from the slight discomfort, my little lodger hasn't been too much trouble. Mind you, if it was still squirming around visibly, I might feel differently.