Beware: Itchy Side Effects

I’ve seen a creepier and crawlier side to my job this week. Possibly the one I’m most fearful of. Do you know what bed bugs look like? I didn’t, but I do now. There are a number of parasites and tiny creatures that call the human body home or food. Some whether dead or alive. This is, no matter how gross, a fact of life and unfortunately one worth discussing. If your skin starts to crawl and itch after reading this I have reached the desired effect because you now feel how I feel, congratulations!

I’ve seen or heard about maggots, head lice and, now, bed bugs so far during my time at the mortuary. Particularly in the recent heatwave, maggots and fly eggs are very common. Flies are incredibly hard workers and can lay eggs very quickly after death. The eggs look like tiny white lines, that then become larger white lines when they hatch into maggots. Maggots feed and then form hard cases to pupate into flies. Sometimes we can see all stages of this cycle on a person when they come in, sometimes just one or two. We have chemicals that kill the eggs or maggots within seconds, they are very potent and smell awful but do a wonderful job. We purchase cans of Raid for the flies and can be seen chasing flies around the room sometimes if one gets free.

Head lice or lice are slow little things that live in hair or on people and feed off blood like fleas. Fleas can jump but lice cannot. They are easily confused but are very different creatures. Head lice are treated the same way in the dead as in the living and a bit of Hedrin or similar will sort them out. The bites can cause itchy rashes and blisters in the living which could get infected and be quite nasty.

Bed bugs are what are currently freaking me out. Like anything, I’ve read up on a lot of different websites and I’m a bit horrified.They are relentless it would seem and can hide away evading discovery. They travel on people but live near where you sleep like under your mattress. Bed bugs mainly bite on arms or shoulder and back of the living, these bites can cause red itchy spots which could also become infected. One thing I noticed was that they become very sluggish in the fridge, but upon removal begin wiggling about. So I very quickly placed them back in the fridge and phoned my manager for advice of what to do!

I’m going to mention that the patients who rarely come in with any of these or any other little creatures will be treated with relevant chemicals and bagged to prevent any escaping or posing a threat to anyone else. We will endeavour to ensure that they are spotted quickly and dealt with. I definitely am still very aware that I have so much more to learn and encounter!! However the theme of the week is definitely bed bugs, the horrible wee beasties that they are.

Brain count is up to 34, it’s been slow going but I’ve now completed two eviscerations without any assistance from anyone which I’m really chuffed with and had some great feedback from the Pathologists I work with. I also forgot to mention that I have some great events lined up that I will be excited to write about and share with you and an idea for a post I’ll begin writing and hopefully have up at the weekend.

Hope you’re having a good and creepy crawly free week so far!

MG x

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