But over the next two weeks, the 32-year-old woman watched it move – snapping photos as it formed bumps above her eye before it made its way down into her lip, forcing her mouth to swell.
It was a parasite, and it was living inside her face.
The case – and shocking images – were published on Thursday in a report titled “Migrating Dirofilaria repens” in the New England Journal of Medicine, detailing a case in which a woman from Russia became host to a parasite through a mosquito bite. The report says the woman, who was not named, started showing symptoms after travelling to a rural area not far from Moscow, where she “recalled being frequently bitten by mosquitoes”.
She experienced only occasional itching and burning as the worm slithered under her skin.
Dirofilaria repens is a long parasitic roundworm that is spread by mosquitoes, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).