Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Want to try bacon therapy? Just have a parasitic screwworm under your skin.

Bacon therapy sounds awesome, but it isn't really. Rather than the patient gorging on crispy strips, the raw meat is instead shoved underneath their skin to draw out a nasty parasite called the New World screwworm.

Want to try bacon therapy? Just have a parasitic screwworm under your skin.

Bacon therapy sounds awesome, but it isn’t really. Rather than the patient gorging on crispy strips, the raw meat is instead shoved underneath their skin to draw out a nasty parasite called the New World screwworm.

[The screwworm] is an obligate parasite of animals and is a unique brand of pest in Central and South America where it infects the wounds and mucous membranes of cattle, sheep and horses. Female adult flies lay their eggs and in 8 to 15 hours the 2-centimeter length larva hatch forth, causing excruciating pain and itchiness. The larva’s body shape is encircled by bristly ridges along the length of its body, resembling a fat, white screw used to burrow into living flesh.

To say that screwworm larva crawling around under your skin is painful is an epic understatement. In one reported case, a young patient had to be given intravenous morphine just so doctors could move her hair and examine the infection site.

So how do you get rid of screwworms? Delicious bacon.

            “Bacon therapy” stems from a traditional Central American tactic of sorting out human bot fly larvae by jamming pieces of raw meat or pork into the worm’s breathing hole, known as the punctum. The larvae vacate the premises either enticed by these culinary meat products or to avoid suffocation by meat, a most ignoble death. As noted in one paper, it may be necessary to employ “hours of bacon therapy” to entice all of the infested worms. [Body Horrors]

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