Larvae drive Carbondale man buggy
July 17, 2007
CARBONDALE – For five weeks, five botflies found a home in Aaron Dallas’ head.
“It was weird and traumatic,” said Dallas, of Carbondale.
Not to mention painful, he said.
“I would get this pain that would drop me to my knees,” Dallas said.
In June, Dallas became host to five botfly larvae near the top of his skull. He had visited Belize, in Central America, while assisting with a mountain bike race.
“I had these large strange bumps on the back of my head that were bleeding and oozing,” he said. “I went to the doctor and he said it was probably just a fly bite that got worse.”
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The worst was yet to come.
“I saw a specialist in Denver and he said it was shingles,” Dallas said.
But shingles – a painful skin rash caused by the same virus as chickenpox – it was not.
“The pain involved was like someone knuckling the back of my head, but really hard,” he said. “Then it turned into a needle. Then a nail.”
Dallas, and his wife, Midge, visit Belize often because they own a rental beach house there called Casa Beya. Midge knew about botflies, but never envisioned they would burrow so close to home.
“I had learned about botflies about one month before this happened,” she said. “I watched a video of an extraction.”
Under the impression he may have shingles, Dallas tried different creams and salves with little relief. Then the larvae became active – and things got interesting.
“I’d put my hand back there and feel them moving. I thought it was blood coursing through my head,” he said. “I could hear them – I actually thought I was going crazy.”
Dallas returned to the doctor to put an end to his discomfort.
Dr. Kimball Spence, of Roaring Fork Family Physicians, could see the botfly larvae moving in and out, in the area where men often have bald spots, Dallas said.
The parasites were removed Thursday, July 12.
“He called the nurse in to help and she about fainted. The whole thing was traumatic,” Dallas said. “It was freaking me out. I actually asked them to stop so I could walk around a bit.”
Midge missed the extraction – which required numbing of the infested area before the larvae were removed – but she spoke with her husband’s nurse.
“When I walked into the doctor’s office, she said, ‘You don’t want to go back there,'” Midge said. “This woman was as white as a ghost.”
After seven years of marriage, through sickness and health, Midge can only joke about Aaron’s ordeal.
“I told him, ‘I will love you through your maggots,'” she teased.
She’s even made a three-minute short film titled, “Aaron’s visitors from Belize,” about the finger nail-sized parasites.
“It’s one of those things my wife loves to tell people about,” Dallas said. “It’s much funnier to everyone else. It makes my stomach turn over. It was cruel.”
Dallas likely received the larvae infestation from a mosquito, an insect which can carry botfly eggs, he said.
“I was doing support in a town called Orange Walk, kind of an agricultural place, and I was lucky enough not to have air conditioning and have no screens in the window,” he said. “My best advice is to never get these in your body.”
Midge is just glad her husband is bug-free.
“The hard thing was that he was in such pain,” she said. “Thank God it’s over.”