Nose Leech . . . No Kidding

In case you did not have enough things to worry about this morning, you may want to add nose leeches to your phobias. Dr. Renzo Arauco-Brown, from the School of Medicine at the Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Lima extracted this little beauty out of the nose of a little girl who went swimming in the Amazon. It appears to prefer the inside of your nose as its happy domicile.

The leech has a single row of eight “enormous teeth” (a relative term) and attaches itself to mucous membranes. Because of its teeth, it has been named Tyrannobdella rex or tyrant leech king. It lives in the upper regions of the Amazon and was first discovered in 2007.

I can see it now in my next visit to the Doctor’s office: “I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you do not have the flu. The bad news is that the running nose is due to an Amazonian Nose Leech.”

For the full story, click here.

7 thoughts on “Nose Leech . . . No Kidding”

  1. JT:


    As a fellow juris doctor, you should know that leeches and lawyers can a common ancestry. I consider this story well within our realm of interests.”


    As usual, I defer to the “Marlin Perkins” of the legal world’s version of “Wild Kingdom.” My only caution is that you “not get into the water with the anaconda leech, Jim.”

  2. I am re-reading a book called the River of Doubt by Candice Miller. Its about TRR ride down the river after his loss to Wilson. One of the things that people complained about was it had too much about the eco-structure. Well guess what, I read about these creatures and there are many more out there in various forms.

  3. Professor T.,

    While I’d never want to have a leech making its home in one of my nasal passages–leeches, like lawyers, can prove to be helpful in certain circumstances.

    From TimesOnline (UK)
    March 20, 2009
    When it comes to wound healing, the maggot cleans up
    Sam Lister, Health Editor

    Flesh-eating maggots and blood-sucking leeches might be considered more medieval than modern, but if you want a wound treated with maximum efficiency, few therapies can compete with 200 million years of evolution.

    A study by a team of British scientists, published today, lends support to the use of the maggot in high-tech healthcare. They found that, left to graze on the skin, maggots can clean wounds that fail to heal five times faster than conventional treatments.

    In a trial to investigate the clinical effectiveness of maggots for wound treatment, the leg ulcers of patients treated with larvae were found to heal just as quickly as the water-based gel normally used. The study also showed that the process of debridement — the removal of dead tissue, in this case eaten by the maggots — occurred far faster, suggesting that larvae could be used to clean sites at high speed before urgent surgery, such as skin grafts.

    Leeches have also been shown to be a highly effective tool in microsurgery. The excess blood that builds up when an appendage is reattached — because of the inability to link all the broken veins — is drained off with leeches, which can consume five times their weight in a single blood-sucking.

  4. The vast freshwater ecosystem of the Amazon River is home to abundant animal life, and many of its species thrive by virtue of their ferocity. If one were to ask the locals which of the river’s indigenous species is the most treacherous, a few might describe the roaming packs of carnivorous piranhas, or the massive anaconda snakes; but based on the general sentiment of the region, the most frequently uttered response would be “candirú.”

    It seems that the tiny, slender catfish cannot always distinguish a urinating human from an exhaling fish gill, and on occasion it will attempt its trademark high-speed attack on some unfortunate soul.

    Silvio Barbossa was one such soul. He was swimming in the Amazon River when he went head to head with the tiny parasite:
    “I felt like urinating. I stood up, and it was then it attacked me. The candirú attacked me. […] When I saw it, I was terrified. I grabbed it quickly so it couldn’t go deeper inside. I could only see the end of its tail flapping. I tried to grab it, but it slipped away from me and went in. […] I was very afraid, because the candirú bites.”

    It didn’t go up his nose it went in his urethra

  5. Ah, the myriad of interests that strikes JT’s fancy! Can tapeworms be far behind?

    1. Mespo:

      As a fellow juris doctor, you should know that leeches and lawyers share a common ancestry. I consider this story well within our realm of interests.

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