Doctors Discover Parasitic Worm in Woman’s Face

Aaron Gould Sheinin

July 02, 2018

A woman in Moscow spent 2 weeks photographing a strange lump in her face that moved from place to place.

First, the 32-year-old noticed it below her left eye. Five days later, it was above the eye. Ten days later, it was on her upper lip.

The woman had recently been bitten several times by mosquitoes. The lump itched, but otherwise, it didn’t bother her.

Only when she finally went to a doctor was the cause of the moving lump discovered: It was a parasite. According to a case study in this month’s New England Journal of Medicine, doctors in Moscow discovered Dirofilaria repens, a “zoonotic filarial nematode,” a type of worm, moving its way around the woman’s face, under her skin.

She needed surgery to remove it, and the woman has since recovered.

According to the CDC, these types of parasites are carried by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites a mammal, most often a dog or coyote, it introduces larvae onto the host’s skin.

The larvae grow and produce microscopic offspring. Another mosquito will ingest these microfilariae when it bites the host and then infect another host, repeating the cycle over and over.


New England Journal of Medicine: “Migrating Dirofilaria repens.”

CDC: “Dirofilariasis.”