A strange difficulty has arisen in our medical entomology
lab. We need to cut sections of the larva of the South
African minefly, Musca subterrae adamantivora. This is the
vector of a viral infection of workers in our local diamond
mines. The fly bites the miners and also bats, which may
collect the virus from the moths that they eat on their
The sectioning difficulty is due to the larvae in the mine
eating dirt that contains diamond dust as well as bat
guano (which is the organic food source for minefly maggots).
The largest of the eaten diamonds are no bigger than cell
nuclei, but they concentrate in the tissue. With paraffin
embedding and steel knives, everything is shredded. We have
used the hardest epoxy resin too, and have worn out more
than 50 diamond knives trying to section these wretched
Please make some suggestions. We have run out of ideas.
Sidney Snotkins MD, FSACPath
DeBeer Institute of Industrial Pathology,
Kimberley, South Africa.
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