Iguana Bit 3-Year-Old on Finger for Her Cake Causing Rare Infection

Iguana Bit 3-Year-Old on Finger for Her Cake Causing Rare Infection

An iguana is seen as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission continues its efforts to try to control invasive species on March 13, 2018 in Miami, Florida.
Getty Images/Joe Raedle

  • In a rare attack, an iguana bit a child for his cake in Costa Rica.
  • Five months later, a strange cyst began to grow where the girl was bitten.
  • Scientists have discovered that the girl was infected with a rare bacterium, possibly the first from an iguana bite.

A girl’s rare infection may have been linked to a rare encounter with an iguana that was craving cake, scientists suspect.

CNN reported that a scientific presentation on the case of the unidentified 3-year-old girl will be given at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases this month.

Last March, the anonymous girl was on vacation with her parents in Costa Rica. Her parents gave her a cake as she hung out by the water. A wild iguana ran up to her, bit her finger and stole her cake.

“He was trying to mark his territory or something,” said Dr. Jordan Kit Mah, a medical microbiologist at Stanford University. the Guardian.

Iguanas are generally harmless and herbivorous, but this one seems to have developed a taste for sweets, CNN reported.

Her parents noticed the bite was superficial but took her to a local clinic anyway, which disinfected the wound and gave her antibiotics. The wound healed, but five months later they noticed a lump in the same place.

While the girl said the bump did not hurt her, it had grown to the size of a coin and was a reddish-bluish color, the Guardian reported. The family took the child to the doctor.

At first, the parents didn’t think the iguana bite had anything to do with it. Doctors suspected it might be a cyst, but as it continued to grow, the parents realized the bump was in the same place as the iguana bite, CNN reported.

The bump continued to grow and began to cause mild pain, which sent the girl to an orthopedist. She has a biopsy that revealed a rare infection.

The little girl had developed marine mycobacterium which usually causes a tuberculosis-like disease in fish but rarely infects humans. Humans usually get this infection if they have open wounds and come into contact with contaminated water. Mah told CNN he believes this is the first time a human has contracted the infection from an iguana bite.

“We know a lot about animal bites and bacteria, infections, tracking, say, dogs or cats, but there really isn’t much for lizards, let alone iguanas,” did he declare. “I don’t think people should be afraid, but doctors should be aware of this possibility.”

He told the Guardian he was not surprised it took so long for the girl to develop symptoms, as the bacteria grows very slowly and has a long incubation period.

The infection does not respond well to typical antibiotics, but the little girl has been put on rifampin, an antimicrobial, and clarithromycin, an antibiotic and according to Mah, is improving.

“Usually with these infections, because they take a very long time to develop and they’re a bit more difficult, you have to treat them for a longer period of time, sometimes several months,” Mah told CNN. “So she’s better. I wouldn’t say 100%, but she’s a lot better than she was when she started.”

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