A Swanwick woman has relived her ordeal at having flesh-eating maggots removed from her ear canal as part of a Discovery Channel documentary.
Rochelle Harris, 27, had returned from a dream holiday to Peru with her boyfriend, James, when she started experiencing shooting pains down the side of her face and heard ‘scratching sounds’.
She got the shock of a lifetime, when doctors at Royal Derby Hospital told her the symptoms were being caused by a hive of maggots, which had bored a 12mm hole in her ear canal and were close to eating their way through to a facial nerve.
The ordeal, which nearly left Rochelle, 27, facially paralysed, featured in the first episode of Discovery Channel documentary Bugs, Bites and Parasites, which will aired on Sunday, July 21.
In the show she described how Royal Derby doctors revealed what was causing her the pain.
She said: “The doctors spent a lot of time looking in my ear without telling me what was actually in there.
“I think it was after about an hour, my mum asked them ‘can we see what it is?”
“The doctor said if you don’t mind, I would actually prefer to go and speak to the registrar before I tell you anything.
“My mum said please tell us and I also said, tell us we want to know - and that’s when she said to me - ‘you’ve got maggots in your ear’.
Doctors immediately took Rochelle to have a CT scan.
“I was very scared,” she continued. “Were they in my brain? I thought this could be very serious.”
After the scan doctors told Rochelle that the maggots were chewing dangerously close to a facial nerve on the left side of her face, which if they continued, could have left her muscles there paralysed.
The surgical team, sedated Rochelle and went to explore her ear canal using a microscope and a speculum.
Royal Derby Hospital ear, nose and throat specialist Steve Emmett, said: “As I pushed the speculum through I saw a writhing mass of maggots.”
The programme tells how in Rochelle’s case doctors used olive oil to flush out two of the bugs.
But they then had to use ‘exploratory surgery’, which revealed eight maggots nesting in her ear canal.
Further laboratory tests found a New World screwworm fly had flown into her ear while she was trekking through a Peruvian jungle. It had laid eggs in there in just 15 seconds, which later hatched.
Rochelle, who says the ordeal has not put her off travelling again has since made a full recovery and her ear has fully healed.
Bugs, bites, and parasites, which producers say features tales of ‘breath taking medical detective work, gripping human stories’ and ‘gruesome illnesses’, follows the work of specialists treating mysterious illnesses and is on the Discovery Chgannel,on Sundays from 10pm.