Mango Worms: A Guide to Prevention and Treatment

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What is Mango Worm?

Mango worms, also known as Cordylobia Anthropophaga, are parasitic fly larva that infests the skin of mammals, including humans and animals like dogs, cats, and rodents.

These parasites are found mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and are most common during the rainy season.

The adult Tumbu fly lays eggs on the ground or on objects, such as clothing or bedding, that are in contact with the ground.

The larvae can survive for up to two weeks without a host, so when a human or animal comes into contact with the eggs, the warmth and moisture of the body cause the eggs to hatch and the larvae to burrow into the skin.

The larvae then feed on the host’s tissue and grow, causing a raised bump on the skin. Eventually, the larvae emerge from the skin as mature flies.

This condition is known as myiasis, most common in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa.

Life Cycle of Mango Worms

Adult Flies Lay Eggs

Adult female flies lay their eggs on the ground, in soil, or in damp clothes.

When an appropriate host comes in contact with the eggs, they can hatch and penetrate the host’s skin.

Larvae Infestation

The larvae burrow into the skin, creating a small breathing hole to continue their development.

As they grow, they make a lump or swelling on the skin, which can be painful and itchy.

Pupa Stage

After a few weeks of feeding and growing under the skin, the larvae reach the pupa stage. During this time, they develop into the next phase of their life cycle.

Emerging as Adult Flies

Eventually, the fully developed adult flies emerge from the pupa and leave the host’s body, completing the life cycle.

Symptoms of a Mango Worm Infestation

  • Itchy red bumps on the skin
  • Pus-filled bumps
  • Blister-like lesions
  • Central breathing hole associated with a skin bump
  • Extreme itching and discomfort
  • Restlessness and inability to sleep
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever (if wounds become infected)

If you think you have mango worms, seeing a doctor as soon as possible is essential. The doctor can remove the larvae and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

Treatment & Techniques for Removing Mango Fly Larvae

Mango worm infestations in humans can be pretty distressing and may require medical attention.

The treatment involves the removal of the larvae from the skin, typically done by a medical professional using sterile instruments.

Hydraulic Expulsion

A doctor will inject each boil with lidocaine and epinephrine to numb the area. Then, they will use a syringe to flush the larvae out of the skin.

Suffocation and Pressure

The doctor will remove any scab that appears on the top of the lesion. Then, they will apply pressure to the lesion to suffocate the larvae.

Squeeze and Eject

The doctor will squeeze the lesion to force the larvae out of the skin.

After removing the larvae, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.

The wound should also be kept clean and covered with a bandage.

Infected areas may need cleaning and dressing appropriately to avoid secondary infections.

Mango worms can cause a painful and uncomfortable infestation but are not usually dangerous.

Tips to Prevent Mango Worm Infestation

  • Avoid walking barefoot in areas where mango flies are common.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants in areas where mango flies are common.
  • Keep your clothing and bedding clean and dry.
  • Do not leave food or garbage out in the open.
  • If you think a mango fly has bitten you, immediately wash the area with soap and water.

Following these tips can help protect yourself from mango worm infestation.

Bottom Line

The term “mango worms” is a colloquial name given to the larvae because they are often found in mangoes, a typical food in the regions where the tumbu fly is found.

With proper treatment, mango worms are usually not a severe problem. However, seeing a doctor as soon as possible to prevent infection & reduce the risk of complications.

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