Nose Leeches

Health: On a lighter note, I’ve been getting through my last two weeks mail and RSS data, and came across this beauty.

It’s a truly venerable internet urban legend — the Nepalese Nose Leech story. Even given that I assumed it was more than likely a UL, I still took care not to drink from streams when I visited leech-infested areas, especially in Nepal!

Well, it appears it may not be a UL after all —

Doctors have removed a leech from the nose of a 55-year-old Hong Kong woman after she swam and washed her face in a stream, a medical journal reported.

The woman went to her doctor complaining of nose bleeds and an occasional sensation that something was blocking her left nostril, the Hong Kong Medical Journal said in its April issue. Her family doctor noticed a brownish mass in her nostril but couldn’t remove it because of heavy bleeding, the journal said.

The patient was taken to the emergency room, where doctors identified the problem as a bloodsucking leech. They had trouble pulling it out because the 2 inch invertebrate retracted into the nostril and disappeared, the journal said.

Part of the slimy leech was in a passage of her nasal cavity and a larger segment was in her sinus cavity, the article said.

Doctors used a nasal spray to anesthetize the dark brown leech that had a sucker on the front part of its body. After two minutes, the leech moved slowly out of the antrum (sinus) and was retrieved with forceps, the journal said.

The woman said that one month before her symptoms developed, she swam and washed her face in a stream while hiking. Doctors checked other members of her hiking group and found another leech in the nose of a man who washed his face in the stream, the journal said.

Link via jwz, AP wire story, abstract at Hong Kong Medical Journal site, MEDLINE abstract, including a line noting ‘this form of leech infestation has not been previously reported’ — except on teh internets!

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