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Author Topic: Could moth larvae invade my body?  (Read 26403 times)

modern

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Could moth larvae invade my body?
« on: 31/07/2009 03:27:18 »
Recently I found some shells within my bed which contained tiny larva.  Upon investigation I found out they were tinea larva which are otherwise known as case making moths.

I have developed a worry since, that these larva due to being found in my bed could have infected me.

The only possible way they could infect I imagine, if they were to enter the anal passage.  I now have this somewhat irrational fear that they could make their way to the heart and cause damage to the conduction system.

I know this isn't all heart related but I would appreciate if you could use your expertise to help me overcome this worry and answer the following:

Do you think these type of creatures could get through the anal sphincter muscle and make their way to the heart?  I know it would be unlikely if they got into the vascular system as they are 'air breathers' and would likely drown.  But could they travel to the heart by penetrating the colon/intestinal wall and make their way through a non-vascular route?  Or would there be too much blood, fluid, fat even, for them to make their way using this route?

If somehow, they did make it to the heart, do you think they could possibly attack the electric system?  What do you think the initial symptoms of this would be?

I very much appreciate your help with this concern I have, however irrational it may be!

« Last Edit: 06/08/2009 20:54:55 by chris »

Pwee

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #1 on: 31/07/2009 11:36:39 »
No moth species ever before have invaded the human body and caused heart problems. They just don't do that.
They eat textil, why would they want to get into you? They would die in that environment instantly, they have no means to travel or survive in the human body, and they can't mess with your heart either.

If you have heart related simptoms, visit a cardiologost, he will tell you what could've caused your problems and more importantly, how to get better.

They wont make you any harm. Maybe they will ruin some of your clothes or bedshiet, but definitly not your heart.

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #2 on: 31/07/2009 12:08:18 »
There are no cardio-symptoms.  I'm referring to the larva specifically and not the moth.  What would happen hypothetically if they crawled in through the anal passage?  This is my irrational worry.  What makes you certain they couldn't survive in that environment?  I know they wouldn't in the vascular system but how about anywhere else internally?

Pwee

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #3 on: 31/07/2009 13:34:07 »
The intestines of a human is really hostile environment for a moth. No air, nothing to eat, high contentration of bacteria, unbreathable gases, even digestive enzymes. Warmer temperature then outside, intestinal motility, aggressive immune system... It would be hell on earth for a moth larva.

There are some parasites that can survive those kinds of conditions, but they are highly specialized, parasitic creatures.
« Last Edit: 31/07/2009 13:36:09 by Pwee »

RD

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #4 on: 31/07/2009 15:23:39 »
There is a recognised medical condition where people have an irrational belief they are being parasitized...
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delusional_parasitosis
« Last Edit: 31/07/2009 15:45:00 by RD »

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #5 on: 31/07/2009 18:03:15 »
Appreciate that, but is it physiologically impossible all the same?  Any experts on here that can give definitive answers?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: 31/07/2009 18:10:16 by modern »

SquarishTriangle

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #6 on: 02/08/2009 00:15:14 »
The anal sphincter tends to remain closed until there is sufficient pressure on the inside (usually from gas or faecal build-up), or voluntary control, to cause it to open. Unless you suffer from faecal incontinence (I'm guessing you would know), it'd be unlikely for caterpillars to have free access to your rectum. If they did somehow manage to squeeze their way through, the pressure against the sphincter muscle would tend to cause a reflex evacuation of rectal contents, sending the little creatures back out into the cold.

Either way, I would think an infection ascending via the anal route would be fairly uncommon. They would be far more likely to enter via your mouth and nose.

Belief of being parasitised is not irrational. We ARE parasitised.

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #7 on: 02/08/2009 03:38:06 »
Thanks Square.

But how do you explain tapeworms.  I've read they can exit the anus to lay eggs outside of the anus.  Can they penetrate the sphincter muscle because they are going from the inside out?  Not that I'm concerned with these creatures as they exist happily in the intestines.

Do you think tinea larvae could reach the heart via a non vascular or intestinal route?

Thanks.

Bored chemist

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #8 on: 02/08/2009 09:59:43 »
"But how do you explain tapeworms."
You swallow the eggs. The worms remain inside and lay their eggs; these make their way out in the normal way of things.

"Belief of being parasitised is not irrational. We ARE parasitised."
In general, yes; by moths, no.

Any moth larva that found itself (however it managed it) in the human gut (at either end) would be doomed. The lack of oxygen would kill it practically instantly.

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #9 on: 02/08/2009 17:17:49 »
"Any moth larva that found itself (however it managed it) in the human gut (at either end) would be doomed."

When you say 'either end', are you referring to the lower colon - where the larva would enter first?

Thanks.

lyner

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #10 on: 02/08/2009 21:22:17 »
You need to realist that, without some of our parasites, we would not survive. They do all sorts of stuff to help us live. They can be our (mutually) friends.

John Chapman

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #11 on: 02/08/2009 22:41:55 »
The larva of this moth is a caterpillar, not some sort of maggot, and simply could have no way of forcing it's way through a tightened sphincter. Maggots are designed to be able to tease their way into crevices - caterpillars cannot.

This is what the offending beastie looks like:



See? A Caterpillar.

In many cultures insects, including caterpillars, are eaten as a matter of course. If one was to be artificially positioned in your gut (which is the only way I can envisage it happening - at that end, at least) then it would certainly die rather quickly. The sides of the large intestine are in contact with the faeces, thus enabling peristaltic propulsion. There is no 'crawling space' between the faeces and the gut wall and the caterpillar (dead) would be ejected with your next poo. However, if the caterpillar was able to miraculously get higher up the gut than the colon it would be digested! Just as they are in the cultures that eat them.

Finally, the gut is a more or less closed system. If you put a little robotic caterpillar in your gut it could crawl around for as long as you like and will never reach a point where it can turn left into a blood vessel and then on to your heart. Obviously blood and faeces/digestive juices do not directly mix at any place in your body.


... but is it physiologically impossible all the same?


I think I can confidently say IT IS IMPOSSIBLE.

Please be reassured. This fear is irrational.
 
« Last Edit: 03/08/2009 19:47:47 by John Chapman »

Bored chemist

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #12 on: 03/08/2009 19:35:31 »
"Any moth larva that found itself (however it managed it) in the human gut (at either end) would be doomed."

When you say 'either end', are you referring to the lower colon - where the larva would enter first?

Thanks.
I was using the word "gut" imprecisely. I could imagine someone swallowing a larva and thereby introducing it to the top end ot the alimentary canal. Since some carepillars are toxic, it might not be the only one in trouble; but it would be in trouble anyway.

Arent the things that we need to live called symbionts or even mutualists rather than parasites (which are pathogenss by deffinition)?

BenV

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #13 on: 03/08/2009 22:20:32 »
Arent the things that we need to live called symbionts or even mutualists rather than parasites (which are pathogenss by deffinition)?

I thought there was some very muddy water between the two - certain parasites in certain people in certain doses have a beneficial effect on the immune system (at least where autoimmunity is concerned) but the same load in a different person would be pathogenic?

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #14 on: 04/08/2009 01:10:45 »
Thanks for your generous response John - It has gone a long way in reassuring me, for which, I am grateful.

Are you familiar with these creatures I am referring to, or are you an expert in the field of caterpillars?

Do you think if they miraculously got past the anal sphincter, could it then be possible for them to penetrate the colon wall and thus have free access to get to any organ in the body?

Thanks again.

Bored chemist

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #15 on: 04/08/2009 19:49:34 »
Did you read the bit where I said "The lack of oxygen would kill it practically instantly."?

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #16 on: 04/08/2009 20:25:26 »
Yes - but I have placed some in a cup of water for more than two hours.  And when I removed them they began to move about!  Although I have been told they are air breathers, they can obviously exist without oxygen for some time.  Though while they were submerged they didn't seem to be mobile or struggling in any way, just static.

This brings me back to the question if they did get past the sphincter muscle would the lack of oxygen render them useless or would they have a few hours to cause some damage?

thanks.

Bored chemist

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #17 on: 04/08/2009 21:04:39 »
Fish breathe oxygen.
There's plenty dissolved in most water.

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #18 on: 04/08/2009 21:39:05 »
But aren't fish specially adapted to breathe oxygen in water, where as a caterpillar larva wouldn't have that capability?

Is there no source of oxygen whatsoever in the lower colon?  And scientifically, are you quite sure about this?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: 04/08/2009 21:41:19 by modern »

Pwee

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #19 on: 04/08/2009 22:10:49 »
Here are some things that can be damaging to your health:
- Smoking and consuming too much alcohol
- The cold Vacuum of space
- Sharp edged things
- Unsafe sex with unknown partner
- A hungry tiger
- *worrying too much*

Here are some things that CAN NOT hurt your health in any way:
- Adequate exercise
- Having the needed amount of fruits and vegetables in the diet
- a well deserved good night sleep
- listening to the Naked Scientists Show weekly
- *clothing moths*

The above things are just examples, don't get fooled by the sizes of the lists, there are approximately the same number of things in the world that will and will not hurt you, but clothing moths were always in the top three of "The things that pose the least threat to human health".
« Last Edit: 04/08/2009 22:12:20 by Pwee »

John Chapman

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #20 on: 04/08/2009 22:31:30 »
Hi Modern.

Yes, you are right. Many insects can survive for surprising lengths of time under water. I once put a live cat flea in a glass of water so that I could kill it without damaging it. It seemed less effort than unpacking my killing jar from under the bed. 3 days (yes, THREE DAYS) later while I was preparing it for the microscope the bloody thing got up and hopped away! However, this isnít the same as surviving without oxygen. What happened is that itís little breathing tubes (itís spiracles) were blocked off by water without filling. Just enough oxygen in the water then defused into itís spiracles to keep it alive in suspended animation. As soon as I dried it off the spiracles unblocked and fresh air diffused back in. In the case of your Tinea pellionella this could not happen. The colonís main job is to reabsorb liquid from poo and is a relatively dry oxygen free environment. Also remember that while the caterpillar (or flea) was in water it was unconscious. But the main thing the caterpillar would have going against it is that it is soft bodied and would simply be squashed as the peristaltic waves of muscle contraction run down the gut wall.

There is a more pertinent question, though, and that is why would the caterpillar want to enter your body? True, they are carnivorous but they are not meat eaters, as such. That is they eat mainly keratin, the stuff that wool, hair and fingernails are made of. They are shy by nature and live in their little woolly tubes which are open at both ends. The tubes are made of silk and they eventually pupate in it. If you remove a young caterpillar from itís tube it will immediately rebuild it but if you remove a fully grown one from itís tube before it pupates it will actually die! Pellionella have such a dependency on their woolley tube and they are so well adapted to their environment that I cannot understand why you think one might enter you or how they could do it.
 

John Chapman

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #21 on: 04/08/2009 22:40:26 »
Do you mind if I ask a personal question:

Do you accept that this is an irrational fear but cannot help worrying about it anyway? A sort of obsessive-compulsive thing?

Or are you genuinely concerned that this could happen?
« Last Edit: 04/08/2009 22:51:41 by John Chapman »

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #22 on: 05/08/2009 04:02:12 »
Hi John,

I think it's probably irrational but still worry of the likely hood that it somehow may have happened.

I can accept that these tinea larvae would find it difficult to push through the sphincter, and this eases the anxiety of them doing any serious damage.

But thinking too much - The idea has to come into my head that what if gases we release opened the sphincter muscle.  Would this than provide an opportunity for the larva to crawl through or does the sphincter muscle not open sufficiently enough for a larva to crawl through when passing wind?  Or would this reaction be too quick for the creature to have time to get through into the colon?

Thanks again John for your detailed replies.

« Last Edit: 05/08/2009 17:41:35 by modern »

John Chapman

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #23 on: 05/08/2009 08:43:16 »
Oh, that's interesting. I hadn't thought about farting.

When you fart it tends to seep out of a narrow 'crack' of an opening. You can fart while you are wanting a poo and nothing but gas will come out! The mechanism for farting is that you contract your stomach muscles and so compress everything in your lower body cavity including your descending colon and any gases it contains. It's a bit like squeezing a balloon. If you then relax your sphincter just enough to let the compressed gas escape you fart. You cannot actually 'open' your anal sphincter, as such. The muscles aren't arranged that way and it is a largely involuntary set of muscles designed to contract all the time, even when you are relaxed. If they didn't you would become incontinent in your sleep.

Think again about the balloon analogy. Blow up the balloon and pinch the neck closed with two fingers. Then relax your grip just enough to let the air 'parp' out of a crack of an opening. Can you imagining a caterpillar crawling against the airflow at that moment and into the balloon? It's just not going to happen. The gap is too small. The air current is too great and the time scale is far too short. The thing would have to move like greased lightening and be able to flatten itself enough to get through the gap and grip hard enough not to get shot back out again like the cork from a pop gun! But still the main question has to be 'why would it want to?'. It happily lives a shy & passive life protected by it's cocoon.

The other thing that should be remembered, of course, is that the caterpillar would asphyxiate in a methane environment. It would be more deadly than dropping one in water because the methane would diffuse into the caterpillars spiracles replacing the air. It would therefore suffocate much more quickly in methane than it would in the glass of water.
 
« Last Edit: 07/08/2009 07:28:26 by John Chapman »

modern

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Re: Could moth larvae invade my body?
« Reply #24 on: 05/08/2009 17:40:40 »
Thanks again John for your excellent answers.

I suppose my concern is I could have inadvertently laid on one of the 'cases' while in bed.  Being of the hairy kind, I'm worried one may have then attached itself to the hair.  As you say keratin is it's main food source so hair would be ideal to eat.

So the irrational fear is it MAY have crawled towards the anal passage.  I am quite worried that I am thinking about seeing the GP, but really too embarrassed to do so.  Afterall, what would a GP say to me, do you think? 

John - Are you quite sure they couldn't push through the anal sphincter muscle?

Would the area directly above the anal sphincter muscle contain a methane environment?

Again John, thanks for your excellent answers.


 

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