• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Use your Rain-guard when leaches are about (1 Viewer)

Jon.Bryant

Active member
Not sure where to post this, but thought I would share a tip regarding birding in forest where there are leaches.

Leaches are annoying and give me the creeps, but they are reportedly quite harmless (they apparently don't carry disease) and the bites are not that irritating. That said, they can cause EYE INJURY!!

My wide any I were birding in PNG and were in forest where leaches were common. My wife raised her binoculars to look at a fairywren and felt something go into her eye. Her eye was a bit uncomfortable but nothing terrible. An hour of so later when we got back to our boat, one of the other birdwatchers on the tour found a leach in the eye cup of his binoculars, which spurred the tour guide to tell a story about how on a previous tour, a woman had got a leach attached to her tear duct, which grossed him out when they had to remove it. Apparently leaches drop of vegetation on to a host, and it is not that uncommon that they end up in binocular eye cups. The guides advice was therefore always use your rainguard in the forest to stop this happening, and avoid accidentally tipping a leach into your eye.

That evening my wife could feel something wiggling under her eyelid, but she din't tell me for fear of sending me into blind panic. Her eye was apparently a bit uncomfortable for the remaining days of the trip and she started to use eye drops, but to no avail. When we got back to Port Moresby and a proper hotel, she asked me to see if I could see anything in her eye - when I looked I thought I could see something in her eye, but when I tried to extract it either her eye rolled forward (or more worryingly) the thing slid backwards!

We arrived back in the UK and she went to the GP. The Doctor could see what looked like a bit of tree bark in here eye, but failed to remove it, so asked my wife to report to A&E. At the hospital they couldn't find anything. The GP had however also kindly referred my wife to a specialist eye clinic, with an appointment on the Monday. As luck would have it, on the preceding Sunday, my wife felt something in the corner of her eye and managed to flick it out. It felt soft and as she wondered what it was, she placed it on a bit of kitchen paper - next thing the object started moving - she had had a live leach in her eye for over a week!!! When she reported to the hospital (with the live leach in a glass jar) they were surprised, but they didn't find the story incredulous - apparently there are other documented cases. The specialist thought that the leach had probably not been able to caused too much damage, as it was probably trapped between the eye ball and the upper eyelid and hence constrained in a fairly tight space.

Strangely my wife's eye became puffy and bloodshot after the leach had been removed, so perhaps it managed a bite on the way out (although it wasn't bloated as if it had fed recently).

Anyway - I would advise that you heed the warning and use your rain-guard when leaches are about.
 

Andy Adcock

Well-known member
England
I've had them under binocular straps on my neck and found them when I've taken a watch off but how would it crawl in to your eye without being felt!
 

Steve

Surfing
Staff member
United Kingdom
I've had them under binocular straps on my neck and found them when I've taken a watch off but how would it crawl in to your eye without being felt!
My wife raised her binoculars to look at a fairywren and felt something go into her eye.
 

YuShan

Well-known member
Scary story. I use my rain guard anyway most of the time, because you often get small things falling down from the trees like little drops of water, dust, pollen, insects, etc.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top