Beware of Reindeer on Christmas Eve!

‘Tis the season for reindeer watching as children listen for Santa and his sleigh bells, but beware!  A study from Sweden reports that reindeer may be carrying the larvae of a bumble-like fly called Hypoderma tarandi.  Its eggs laid in the hair of reindeer hatch into larvae that penetrate the skin like a needle. The larvae mature into flies that burst out of the skin and begin the cycle all over again—and can even lay their eggs in humans!

Researchers in Sweden reported on five children who developed skin swellings and eye injury after visiting a reindeer herd in northern Scandanavia and were diagnosed with myiasis—caused by an infestation of the H.tarandi larvae.  There is treatment but be sure your children enjoy reindeer at a safe distance this year and have a very Merry Christmas from the team at the Women’s Health Research Institute!

Source reference:
Kan B, et al “Dermal swellings and ocular injury after exposure to reindeer” N Engl J Med 2012; 367: 2456-2457.