Last week the New England Journal of Medicine published a mind-blowing (and a little creepy) story about a 32-year-old Russian woman who had a live worm removed from her face.


The patient documented the moving worm in a series of selfies (naturally) seen above.

“She first noticed a lump below her left eye, which moved above her eye a few days later. Ten days after that, the lump settled into her upper lip. Other than having a bump moving around her face, she experienced only occasional bouts of an itching and burning sensation.

After two weeks of these symptoms, the woman brought herself to a doctor, where a living parasite was removed surgically and identified as Dirofilaria repens, a long, thin white worm shown in image D above.”1

According to the CDC, D. repens normally infects dogs and other carnivores and causes swelling and itching. If it finds its way into a human, it’s an accident, and in those instances, it normally plays out the way it did for the Russian lady: one single parasite moving around under the skin but not reproducing. (Oh, and still super gross!)


If you find yourself as a host to D. repens, you have mosquitos to blame (the woman “recalled being frequently bitten”2). Currently, the worm is only found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Since 1977, there have been more than 3,500 human cases reported.

Thankfully, after removal of the worm, she had a full recovery.

Sources and References

  1. People, June 22, 2018.
  2. People, June 22, 2018.