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Candirú is a tiny Amazonian parasitic catfish reported to swim into urethral and other body openings of unprotected bathers. It is also known as canero, carnero, and urethra fish, and is a member of the genus Vandellia. When it swims into the urethra, it can be difficult to pull out by its tail because the umbrella-like spines near its head may extend and prevent its removal. Forced extraction may cause lacerations of the urethral mucus membranes, which has caused death by exsanguination. Remedies have ranged from penile amputation and suprapubic cystostomy to application of a native herb that softens the spines of the candirú, so it can be removed relatively atraumatically. A tight bathing suit can prevent entry of the fish into the human urethra. Megadose vitamin C therapy may aid in removal of the fish.
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© 1991 Wilderness Medical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.