STD Awareness: Is There an STD That Causes Maggots?

Update: In November 2014, another video of a maggot infestation in a woman’s genitals went viral. Many astute readers clued us in to some of the locations of this viral video, but after reviewing the websites, I declined to include an updated link because I found them to be pretty misogynistic and exploitative. The message remains the same, though — yes, it’s possible to get maggots in a vagina; no, it’s not directly caused by an STD; and no, it’s definitely not caused by a “superbug” strain of any STD. Continue reading to get the scoop on how maggots actually can infest genitals, and what we know about their connection to STDs.

Maggots grow up to be flies.

Maggots grow up to be flies.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been confronted by two mysteries. The first was a collection of search terms that led curious Web surfers to our blog. Take a gander at them and see if you can tell why they raised my eyebrows:

  • new std that causes maggots
  • what is the new std superbug that causes maggots
  • stds that cause worms

There were dozens of similar searches leading to this blog, enough to make me take notice — and dig around.

Maggots infesting your genitals isn’t something you need to worry about.

First, the obvious: I Googled “STD maggots” and looked at what came up. While there was absolutely nothing to be found in the legitimate news media, there was a proliferation of recently published stories on websites that I’d never heard of, all containing the same unsourced viral video of someone removing maggots from someone else’s vagina. (Actually, I could only find stills — none of the websites I looked at had functioning video. Not that I was hugely motivated to find one that did.)

The accompanying articles described a female patient with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) said to be called “sex superbug,” an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which caused maggots to grow in her vagina. While there is no STD formally called “sex superbug,” the original author was probably referring to antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, which is caused by a strain of bacteria called Neisseria gonorrhoeae that has evolved resistance to the drugs we use to kill it. Someone would have to track down the video’s source, however, to confirm that the subject actually suffered from gonorrhea in addition to the infestation of maggots.

Second, the nerdy: I headed over to PubMed to see what I could find in the medical literature. A search for “gonorrhea maggots” yielded zero results, which was a strike against the legitimacy of the recent viral video. However, I did quickly learn that it is possible for maggots to infest a vagina — a condition that’s called myiasis of the vagina, which itself is not an STD. Of course, there were only a handful of articles about this condition, leading me to deduce that it is very rare indeed. Of the articles that did turn up, very few were about adult humans, and only three involved STDs or possible sexual activity.

The first article, which had an English abstract but Spanish text, was published in a Chilean medical journal in 2009, and described the case of a young woman who found maggots in her urine. Due to the patient’s “record of use of intravaginal vegetables as sexual stimulator,” the authors speculate that she introduced larvae into her body by repurposing a vegetable as a dildo. As far as I can tell, this is the only reported case of possible produce-induced intravaginal maggot infestation, but all the same, it might be a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables before using them as sex toys.

The second article (warning: graphic photos) was written by authors affiliated with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and published in 2011. It describes the case of a woman with a large genital wart that was found to be infested with maggots, 20 of which were subsequently removed with forceps. Perhaps this is the source of the recent rumor about the “STD that causes maggots.”

The third article (warning: graphic photos) was published in 2002. This report comes from Brazil and details the cases of two teenage girls. The first patient had trichomoniasis, and more than 100 maggots were removed from a genital lesion. The second patient had genital warts as well as lesions that were found to be infested with around 65 maggots. The authors note that the patients had poor hygiene and speculate that flies were attracted to the odor and laid eggs in the genital area, where there were open sores.

Over the decades, there have been a few other scattered cases of vaginal maggot infestations published in the medical literature — occurring in patients with no reported STDs. It’s safe to say that this condition is very rare, and can occur in people with or without STDs. It’s also worth mentioning that there are many species of maggots, not all of which are capable of infesting human tissue.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, myiasis is more common in tropical climates, and people with open wounds are at increased risk. Some STDs can cause open sores, which themselves can make a person more vulnerable to subsequent infections. For example, you might have heard that some STDs, like syphilis, trichomoniasis, and herpes, increase risk for HIV — this is because these STDs can cause open sores, which provide doorways for a virus’ easy entry. So, theoretically, open sores caused by STDs and other infections could create a home for maggots … But this possibility is so minuscule that it’s really not something you should worry about. Focus on safer sex practices, like using condoms and being screened for STDs with potential partners, but don’t fret about maggots!

Oh, one more thing. As I said at the top of the article, I’ve been confronted by two mysteries recently. The first was the connection between STDs and maggots. The answer to that is: not much of a connection at all, really, though in rare situations maggots can infest open wounds in the genital area. The second mystery is: How the heck did these search terms lead people to our blog? Prior to today, the word “maggot” has never appeared in any of our articles.

I’ll leave the mysterious machinations of Google’s algorithms to the computer experts.

Click here to check out other installments of our monthly STD Awareness series!

25 thoughts on “STD Awareness: Is There an STD That Causes Maggots?

  1. Hey
    I live in south africa and i am currently a third year physiotherapy student. I work in the public hospitals in bloemfontein.

    I just want to comment on the fact that you say that this condition is a very rare condition. Its very rare for first world counties, but is not as uncommon in third world countries.
    I’ve been working in the public sector for only 3 months now and have already seen 2 cases of genetal maggots.

    • Thanks for your insight, Retha. You’re right that it is very rare in the United States and more common in subtropical climates. When researching the topic, I wasn’t able to find the incidence for myiasis anywhere, and had to assume from the small number of published papers I found that it was rare. Anyway, I just did some Googling again and found this Stanford class project — not sure how good a source it is, and it’s more than a decade old, but it says that data on incidence are limited. However, it does find some stats for Panama, which are for myiasis in general (not just genital myiasis), and they seem quite high, not that there’s anything to compare it to. Unfortunately, a lot of what I found was from veterinary sources, or it pertained to specific types of myiasis (e.g., oral myiasis), so it seems that genital myiasis in humans is not sufficiently studied. Maybe you should write a paper! (Not kidding.)

  2. I would like to understand how the maggots get there. Are flies perhaps attracted by the smell of decay? I am not in the medical field but when I saw the video, I wondered if the maggots were purposely put there to eat away some bateria.

    I also think that the best place to study andthing STD and HIV related is to go to 3rd world countries. We get the first of everything and home remedies are one of the things that could contribute to maggot cases.

    • I’m not sure any of the articles I linked to could definitively say how the maggots got there. In the first article, the authors guessed that the maggots were introduced by a vegetable being used in the vagina. In the third article, the authors speculated that flies were attracted to the odor and laid eggs in open sores in the genital area. So, in both cases, poor sanitation/hygiene were implicated — though we don’t know for sure.

      I have heard of maggots being used for debridement (eating dead tissue). Is that what you’re referring to when you say that “home remedies are one of the things that could contribute to maggot cases”? Very interesting.

  3. Hi , I came across a video on Facebook which makes me never want to go on Facebook again but I googled this matter and I came across your blog then I read another article with the lady speaking out about the situation and she said” that she gave birth and the nurses left a gauze in her Virginia as a result of bleeding and it got infected ” which caused the maggots and that is what I’ve see. So far but it’s very scary if you ask me it made my skin crawl

  4. I didn’t understand about the gauze being left inside her? Cause it said she started feeling maggots crawl down Ber legs… How is Dis possible if maggots come from flies?

  5. so, judging by what you and some other rearchers say, this woman got maggots ON her pussy because she crossed some maggot infected river right after a Brazilian style shave?

    • I’ve only been looking in the medical literature for reports written by doctors around the world. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in gossip or entertainment-oriented websites. I can’t find any confirmed reports of a woman getting a maggot infestation in her genitals after removing her body hair, and it doesn’t sound likely to me. The hair removal would have had to have left open wounds, and then the right species of fly would have had to deposit eggs in those wounds.


  7. Hi, i just received a video from a friend on whatsApp about a lady with maggot crawling all over her vaginal. people comments was that it isn’t medical but spiritual and this lead me to your blog. I’m a nurse and in my 3 years of practice,i haven’t seen such.I must say that u’re really helping people get over this fear, because i just can’t imagine this.Now i know that it’s medical and can be treated.

  8. Poor hygiene would be the main cause of this basing on entomologic point of view.

    • I don’t think any of the articles I read addressed this question directly, but I assume it would be more difficult for flies to lay eggs in the genital region if someone were wearing underwear.

  9. so, i’ve heard that in certain cases vaginal myasis can be caused by sleeping with a decaying corpse? would lthink it would be important to shine light on this?

    • That sounds like an urban legend to me! It’s troubling to me that, as a society, we tend to connect disease to sexual impropriety. It’s unnecessarily stigmatizing.

  10. lam from New York city l have never heard of any of theses disease is the first time that I have seen something like this but its very interesting to learn that a vagina could get that but to my knowledge and understanding Magaz are used to cure infected areas but that […] look me if a woman keep her self clean she be save,, l know that is very hard in a third world country to be not infected but with a lot of medical attention from the US we can help those people out there we could god bless them amen??

    • Thats crazy it always something i have never heard of it before but it good to know these things every thing on Facebook is not ture

  11. Well many thanks for the cleared information given but still whether it is true or false one needs to be very careful with life

  12. Thank you for posting this article. I am a (female) premed student hanging out with a room full of men, one of which looked up one of these videos and they all, of course, tried to say it was a new STD.
    Having taken microbiology, etc I knew they were wrong, and it was most likely incidents that occur in third world countries following some sort of vaginal trauma (child birth) or infections– but of course I needed proof!
    While searching for such proof, I also found it alarming how many people are concerned maggots can be spread through sex!

    • I’m glad you appreciated the article! Your classmates are lucky to have someone with such a finely honed baloney detector in their midst! It is shocking what some people so easily believe. Good luck in your studies!

  13. Adult flies are not parasitic, but when they lay their eggs in open wounds and these hatch into their larval stage (also known as maggots or grubs), the larvae feed on live and/or necrotic tissue, causing myiasis to develop.

  14. My mom just sent me a video of a gentle man that had maggots coming out of his penis. It was disturbing he kept pushing it out the lady in the background of the video stated thay it was from gonorrhea. She sounded from latin decent. Telling people to share the video to help keep your kids or yourself safe from this disease thats spreading. When people see these videos who wouldnt get alarmed by this. I always look things up just so I have a clear ubderstanding. Its hard for me to believe things now a days. So yeah thanks for writing this article.

  15. In answer to your quandary “How the heck did these search terms lead people to our blog?” I too have no idea how Google connects websites to questions, however I can tell you why I became curious. I read The Yard by Alex Grecian, a murder mystery which included descriptions of early forensic work. One of the characters was found to have venereal maggots, but it was a male detective with very poor habits of hygiene. I wondered if it was possible and your blog has suggested that it is.

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