Sun, Oct 01, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Leeches removed from teenager’s nose

By Liao Shu-ling and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A leech that was pulled out of the nasal cavity of a young man at St Joseph’s Hospital in Yunlin County’s Huwei Township is pictured on Tuesday.

Photo: Liao Shu-ling, Taipei Times

Doctors cautioned the public about playing in streams and rivers after a young man was diagnosed as having leeches in his nasal cavity.

The patient, a 17 year old surnamed Lee (李), had come complaining of a stuffy nose and nasal bleeding that he originally described as side-effects of a cold, Hung San-fu (洪三富), a physician with the department of otolaryngology at St Joseph’s Hospital in Yunlin County’s Huwei Township (虎尾), said on Tuesday.

After inspecting Lee and seeing a writhing form, Hung deduced that leeches had crawled up Lee’s nasal cavity.

He gave Lee an anesthetic and removed the leech with pliers, Hung said, adding that the 6cm long leech was evidently not of Taiwanese origin.

It was a different size and shape than endemic leeches and had a suction pod at the head, Hung said, adding that he made a video clip, as it was a very rare case.

Lee said that he had visited relatives on his mother’s side of the family in Indonesia a month ago, adding that he had played in the water, which might have been when the leech crawled up his nose.

Leech larvae are very small, and it is difficult to ascertain whether they might have made their way into a human body, Hung said.

While there are few documented cases of leeches being contagion carriers, leeches that have been in a human body for a long time can cause inflammation and festering, Hung said.

People should not hesitate to visit their nearest clinic or hospital if they experience a stuffy nose or bleeding in their nose after playing in a stream or river, Hung added.

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