Doctors were so surprised at the rare infestation that they videotaped the fruit-fly larvae before removing them from the ear of a Taiwanese woman suffering from severe pain.
It’s not uncommon for cockroaches to be attracted to people’s small, dark ear canals. What is rare is to see ear infested with fruit flies, even in tropical climates where they’re plentiful. When a Taiwanese woman showed up at the doctor complaining of severe ear pain, the medics were so surprised to find fruit flies were the cause, they videotaped the larvae before removing them.
Now documented in the New England Journal of Medicine, doctors found a pool of bloody fluid below the 48-year-old woman’s left hearing aid. Dr. Cheng-Ping Shih said, “The skin over the floor of the auditory canal, close to the eardrum, was eroded.” (
The woman had decreased ear sensitivity from frequent use of the hearing aid, which increased the ear’s warmth, further attracting her home’s fruit flies. After recording the video, doctors removed the larvae and prescribed antibiotic ointment for 2 weeks, which was when the ear healed.
Removal is typically through forceps or water or saline irrigation. For stubborn cases, surgery is needed
According to the CDC, fly larvae infections can also happen through open wounds or bare feet. As prevention, they advise covering skin if outdoors frequently, sleeping with mosquito nets or window screens, and ironing clothes dried outdoors before wearing.