Fact Check

Fly Boy

Did an Indian boy experience a rare condition in which flies emerged from his groin?

Published July 26, 2003


Claim:   An Indian boy experienced a rare condition in which beetles bred in his body and emerged from his groin as full-grown flies.

Status:   Undetermined.

Example:   [The Calcutta Telegraph, 2003]

Live flies are emerging out of a perforation in the lower part of the body of a 13-year-old boy in Bengal in a bizarre — but not unknown — phenomenon.

Admitted in Burdwan Medical College Hospital since last Saturday, Chandan Goswami stunned doctors as the flies began to come out of a part of his crotch to take wing. Some of the flies were caught by the boy’s parents.

"This is a condition called myiasis in which a human or animal body, dead or alive, is invaded by the larvae of particular types of flies," said an excited Snehansu Pan, the surgeon taking care of Chandan.

[Rest of article here]

Origins:   Urban legendry is rife with horror tales of insects entering, living in, breeding in, and emerging from the bodies of living human beings. Although nearly all such stories are apocryphal cautionary tales, in mid-June 2003 news accounts began to emerge from India chronicling the plight

Rove beetle

of a Chandan Goswami, a 13-year-old Bengali boy believed to be suffering from myiasis, a rare condition described as one in which:

The larvae of a type of fly invade a human or animal body, dead or alive. The deposited eggs then enter the body through pores, the mucous membrane or even the mouth. The hatched larvae then emerge out the host's skin and pupate.

In Chandan's case, whole flies (later identified as a species of the rove beetle) complete with wings were emerging from his groin and flying off.

Most readers became aware of this story through articles from the Indo-Asian News Service and the Calcutta Telegraph which were redistributed through Yahoo!'s on-line news service. Usually odd news reports emanating from a place such as India are suspect and difficult to verify, but in this case the Calcutta Telegraph provided day-by-day news coverage with a wealth of detailed information for several days running. The last article, dated 25 June, reported that Chandan's parents, frustrated with his doctors' inabilities to adequately diagnose or treat his malady, had gotten him discharged from Burdwan Medical College Hospital so that he could be admitted to the urology department at SSKM Hospital:

Parents of Chandan Goswami, the boy suffering from myiasis, today got him discharged from the medical college hospital here and set off for Calcutta to admit him to the urology department of SSKM hospital.

Faced with pressure from Chandan's family, who alleged that the doctors could not do anything even after keeping the 13-year-old under observation and treatment for 18 days, the seven-member medical board met this morning and released him.

Since Chandan’s admission on June 7, 13 insects, resembling flies but still unidentified, have flown out of the perforation in the boy’s crotch on four occasions. The doctors performed several clinical examinations, including a cystoscopy, which yielded no result.

Tamal Ghosh, Chandan's uncle accompanying the family to Calcutta, said the hospital had handed over only the discharge certificate. They have not got the papers relating to the treatment he received and the tests done on him.

It seems Chandan left the hospital with bitter memories. "Last night one of the doctors told me my son had gone mad. He asked us to take him away and chastised me for wasting their time," said Alpana, Chandan's mother. Ghosh said the doctors were not taking proper care of the boy, who lay writhing in pain last night.

Chandan suffered an internal injury during the cystoscopy and has been passing blood with his urine. But doctors said such injuries were not uncommon during the procedure.

The outcome of this story is still murky, though. According to a New India Press account of 25 July 2003, after Chandan was shifted to the SSKM Hospital, "doctors declared that it could be a stray case of flies coming from an external source and falling in while the boy was urinating."

We haven't turned up any follow-up articles on Chandan's condition since then, although we have noted a mini-outbreak of news reports from India about patients purportedly suffering from similar afflictions. For example, the day after the last article on Chandan, the Calcutta Telegraph published another account of a boy suffering from a similar condition in which dung beetles were emerging from his rectum:

Live "dung" beetles today emerged out of a perforation in the lower part of the body of a two-and-half-year-old boy in a rare condition known to be occurring in tropical countries.

Experts termed the disease a rare case of "scarabiasis or canthariasis", prevalent among children between two and five years.

Sources said the boy, a resident of Hakimpara, was being treated by paediatrician S.B. Mantry for lack of appetite, abdominal cramps and weakness.

Last week, the boy's parents had showed Mantry a black insect which, according to them, had come out while he was defecating. They told the doctor such insects had buzzed out earlier, only this time they caught it before it could take wings.

Mantry was reportedly taken aback when he was shown the beetle-like insect, which had bright yellow stripes on its black body. The doctor advised the boy's parents to have the specimen examined by Supada Mallick, a local pathologist.

A surprised Mallick referred the case to another pathologist, S.K. Roy, last Saturday. Roy described the disease as scarabiasis, better known as the "beetle disease." He confirmed that the insect that had come out of the child’s body was a beetle.

"Medical parasitology terms this disease as scarabiasis or canthariasis, where beetles infest the digestive tract," Roy said.

On 25 July 2003, the New India Press published a column on a boy allegedly hospitalized (at the very same Burdwan facility where Chandan had initially been treated) because ants were crawling out of his eye:

After the baffling case of the boy who passed live flies while urinating, an eleven year old was on Thursday admitted to a government hospital for investigation why black ants were crawling out of his left eye since last week.

A resident of Tahala village of Birbhum district, Abu Bakkar, a farmer's son, was first taken to the district headquarters hospital at Suri with his bizarre complaint, from where he was referred to the Burdwan Medical College and Hospital here.

The left eye of the boy was swollen and had a reddish appearance. Black ants were emerging at regular intervals, hospital sources said.

He would be kept under observation for two days, the sources said.

Last updated:   31 October 2006

Sources Sources:

    Lahiry, Ranjan.   "Flies Buzz Out of 13-year-old Boy's Body in Rare Disease."

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   14 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "Doctors Subject Boy to Tests."

    15 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "One More Fly Out of Boy's Body."

    16 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "After Insects, Intruders Bug Ailing Teenager."

    17 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "Rove Beetle Inside Boy."

    18 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "Boy Languishes, Insects Keep Popping Out."

    24 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "Finally, City Shift for Insect Boy."

    25 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "Insect Boy on Way to SSKM."

    26 June 2003.

    The [Calcutta] Telegraph.   "Another Boy with Insect Inside."

    27 June 2003.

    newindpress.com.   "Boy with Ants Crawling Out of His Eye Baffle Doctors."

    25 July 2003.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.