Emergency doctors in Taiwan who were treating a woman’s severe ear ache discovered that the pain was caused by fruit-fly larva living in her ear canal. The nightmarish find was documented in the New England Journal of Medicine. The physicians recorded video (that can be viewed here) of the patient’s ear canal, which, as you can imagine, shouldn’t be watched by those with a weak stomach.
The 48-year-old woman wore a hearing aid and when doctors removed the device, a bloody discharge was found in her left ear and “skin over the floor of the auditory canal, close to the eardrum, was eroded.”
Dr. Cheng-Ping Shih of Tri-Service General Hospital in Taipei told NBC News via email, “The larvae was still alive in the ear while the patient visited our emergent department.” He wrote that the larva was probably in her ear for a day or longer and the woman’s skin inside her ear was less sensitive because she frequently used her hearing aid. An additional note that Dr. Cheng-Ping Shih provided NBC News, “Most cases of animals in the ear canal are the flying objects and cockroaches…The fruit fly larva in ear canal is relatively unusual.”
The doctors removed the larva without incident and treated the woman with a topical antibiotic. Her ear healed in two weeks and the pain is now gone.