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An intertidal mollusk found in a boy’s skin abscess
  1. Stephen Wesley Line1,
  2. Albert Khait2
  1. 1 Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Pomona, California, USA
  2. 2 Department of Pediatrics, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Albert Khait, akhait{at}


Skin abscesses are commonly seen by primary care physicians in the outpatient setting. The majority of these soft tissue infections arise from penetration wounds by inanimate objects, but rarely, a living organism may present as a contributing factor. We present a case of an 11-year-old boy with an unusual skin abscess containing a chequered periwinkle marine snail (Littorina scutulata). 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. This case emphasises adherence to current professional guidelines that recommend incision and drainage of suspected skin abscesses and encourages clinicians to take a careful history of present illness which may aid in identification of subsequent cases of marine snails, or other living organisms, residing in skin abscesses.

  • dermatology
  • paediatrics

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  • Contributors AK: conceptualised the case report after examining the patient detailed in the manuscript; performed the initial literature review, edited and revised each draft of the manuscript, and provided mentorship for SWL (medical student) on procedures of journal submission. SWL: performed a secondary literature review, compiled background information, drafted the initial manuscript and edited subsequent drafts for journal submission. Both authors: approved the final manuscript as submitted and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Guardian consent obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.