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Doctors found a snail growing in an 11-year-old boy’s elbow. He named it ‘Turbo’

A checkered periwinkle marine snail, similar to these sitka periwinkles, was found growing inside an abscess on an 11-year-old Southern California boy’s arm.
A checkered periwinkle marine snail, similar to these sitka periwinkles, was found growing inside an abscess on an 11-year-old Southern California boy’s arm. University of Washington

When an 11-year-old boy cut his elbow after slipping and falling in a Southern California tidepool, his parents patched him up. But when the wound appeared to be getting worse after a week, they took him to the hospital.

That’s when Dr. Albert Khait, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Loma Linda University in Los Angeles, discovered something surprising – a sea snail had hatched inside a skin abscess in the wound, he wrote in BMJ Cases, a medical journal. And it was still alive.

“The unique characteristics of this intertidal mollusk appear to have enabled it to survive in the subcutaneous tissue for a week, despite the hostile environment of a skin abscess," Khait wrote. Doctors believe a snail egg became embedded in the wound when the boy fell in the tidepool.

Pediatricians allowed the “visibly excited” boy to take the snail, identified as a checkered perwinkle marine snail, home with him to show his friends, according to the journal. But the snail, named “Turbo” by the boy, died just a day after being removed from the abscess.

In 2013, a snail was found in a 4-year-old boy’s knee after he fell and scraped it at the beach, reported CNN. When the wound appeared to become infected, his mother squeezed it and the snail popped out. The Aliso Viejo, California, boy also adopted the snail, also named “Turbo” after a Dreamworks Animation film.

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