A British backpacker returned from her travels to find she’d brought along a stowaway leech – up her nose.
Astonishingly, the three-inch long creature had been living in Daniela Liverani’s nostril for more than a month.
Liverani had been travelling around south-east Asia when she started suffering persistent nosebleeds, but put it down to a burst blood vessel from a motorbike crash.
This three-inch leech made itself at home in Daniela Liverani's nostril for more than a month
Days after returning to her Edinburgh home, the 24-year-old graduate spotted something poking out of her nose, which she dismissed as congealed blood.
She got the fright of her life though when she was rushed to A&E last week after discovering the slimy black blood-sucker had been hitching a ride.
Liverani, originally from Glasgow, said: “Two weeks before I came home from Asia, I started having nosebleeds but I’d fallen off a motorbike so thought I’d burst a blood vessel.
“After I got home, the nosebleeds stopped and I started seeing something sticking out of my nostril. I just thought it was congealed blood from the nosebleeds.
Liverani had suffered nosebleeds but put them down to a burst blood vessel
"I tried to blow him out and grab him but I couldn’t get a grip of him before he retreated back up my nose.
“When I was in the shower, he would come right out as far as my bottom lip and I could see him sticking out the bottom of my nose.
“So when that happened, I jumped out of the shower to look really closely in the mirror and I saw ridges on him. That’s when I realised he was an animal.
“My friend Jenny and I called NHS 24 and were told to get to accident and emergency as soon as possible.”
Liverani was whisked into a treatment room where a nurse and doctor examined her nose using a torch, forceps and tweezers.
The leech was eventually extracted with tweezers
The doctor used a nose forceps to prise open her nostrils really wide while a nurse and Jenny pinned her to the bed.
Liverani said: “It was agony – whenever the doctor grabbed him, I could feel the leech tugging at the inside of my nose.
“Then all of a sudden, after half an hour, the pain stopped and the doctor had the leech in the tweezers.
"He was about as long as my forefinger and as fat as my thumb.
“He could move so fast as well, which freaked me out. I’ve no idea how he got up there but he’d have got bigger and bigger from feeding on my blood.
“He had been curled up in a big ball, using my nostril as a little nest, so Jenny and I called him Mr Curly. At one point, I could feel him up at my eyebrow.
“I asked the doctor what would’ve happened if I hadn’t gone to hospital and she said he’d probably have worked his way into my brain.”
Mark Siddal, curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York and an expert on leeches, said: “Daniela could have picked up this leech from water in Vietnam, if she had been swimming.
“Or it could have gone in through her mouth, as she was drinking water.
“Even though it was there for around a month, these leeches don’t grow all that quickly, so it wouldn’t have been much smaller when it went up there. It would have been quite sizeable.
“It’s interesting that people don’t feel these leeches go up their nose.”