This woman thought she was feeling under the weather; little did she know quite how things would turn out! Here’s the story.
Unveiling the Shared Human Experience
In a bizarre medical incident, a woman was admitted to the hospital with some common every-day symptoms, including forgetfulness, cognitive lapses and depression. She underwent surgery to remove a live, wriggling worm from her brain — a historic first.
A 64-year-old woman from New South Wales, Australia, went to her local hospital January 2021 after experiencing a few weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhea. Alongside breathing issues, medical scans disclosed an irregularity in her lungs and liver.
An MRI scan initially suggested the presence of a tumor. However, during a biopsy conducted in June 2022, the medical team made an astonishing discovery.
Rare Is an Understatement
Dr. Hari Priya Bandi, the surgeon who performed the biopsy, remarked, “We didn’t encounter surprising findings often, and when we did, it was exceedingly rare.”
The discovery occurred on the right frontal lobe of the woman’s brain: instead of cancer, a living THREE-INCH parasitic worm.
Dr. Bandi recalled, “I then picked it up and just went, ‘Look at it, what is that? … It’s moving. Let’s take it out.’ I had a brief moment when I felt a little sick to my stomach.”
This discovery prompted immediate attention from infectious disease expert Sanjaya Senanayake at Canberra Hospital in Australia.
The roundworm, Ophidascaris Robertsi, usually inhabited pythons and were usually about 3 inches long. This marked the first time ever that the parasite was identified within a human being.
Not Meant for Humans
Senanayake explained, “It wasn’t supposed to develop in her. It was meant to develop in small mammals and marsupials. So, she was an accidental host.”
The parasite had traveled through her lungs and liver before reaching her brain.
Senanayake continued: “This infection does not transmit between people, so this patient’s case won’t cause a pandemic like COVID-19 or Ebola. However, the snake and parasite are found in other parts of the world, so it is likely that other cases will be recognized in coming years in other countries.”
Bandi and Senanayake were co-authors of an article researching the case in the latest release of the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
According to Senanayake, the patient’s nearness to a lake in which the carpet pythons lived, and her habit of collecting food in the area for cooking likely led to consuming the worm’s eggs.
Social Media Goes Viral…
After the news broke on social media via several popular news feeds the reaction was mixed. There was a certain amount of fear-mongering along with humor.
One user on X (formerly known as Twitter) exclaimed “Vaxxed?”
Wash, Wash and Wash Again
Another proclaimed, “We should cook/boil food properly, also wash foods thoroughly.”
Along with many “Alien references” one user remarked, “first discovery? They’ve clearly never been to the tristate”.
Animals to Humans?
Researchers discovered that the larvae could live for long periods within animal hosts, raising concerns about potential future cases among humans. Senanayake stated, “We observed 30 new infections in the past thirty years worldwide,” with nearly three-quarters originating from the animal population.
Crashing the Party
He basically said that since we’re crashing animal house parties (their habitats), we should expect more unwanted party favors (infections).
“Even though Covid is now slowly petering away, it is really important for epidemiologists… and governments – to ensure they’ve got good surveillance of infectious diseases.”
When Your Snack Turns Bad
Aside from recent occurrences of people developing bad headaches due to tapeworm larvae, this Australian case stood apart. In those instances, people contracted the parasite by eating eggs present in the poo of someone with an intestinal tapeworm.
1000 Cases in the US
Over 1,000 cases were reported annually in the US alone.
Other Similar Instances
Notably, a study shared that a 25-year-old Australian woman had experienced tapeworm larvae-related headaches. Initially suspected to be a tumor based on an MRI scan, surgery had revealed a cyst brimming with tapeworm larvae as the cause.
This condition, known as neurocysticercosis, could result in neurological symptoms due to the development of larval cysts within the brain.
His In-Laws Gave Him a House as a Wedding Gift…but in the Most Insulting Way Possible
A young man whipped up concern and advice among Redditors when he revealed that he refused to live in the house his future in-laws wanted to buy for him and his bride. The problem was that the gift came with all sorts of strings. Here is the full story. His In-Laws Gave Him a House as a Wedding Gift…but in the Most Insulting Way Possible
She Refused to Pay for Another Woman’s Child to Have a Nanny
A young mother took to Reddit for opinions after she refused to pay a nanny to look after her son’s friend. It’s tough to share a good thing sometimes! Here is the full story. She Refused to Pay for Another Woman’s Child to Have a Nanny
Her Parents Declared They Were Moving Into Her House, but She Said They Should Talk to Her Lawyer
A young woman riled up Redditors and landed some kudos after she told her parents she was going to put them in a home. The backstory that follows is loaded with family drama and bad assumptions. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this one! Her Parents Declared They Were Moving Into Her House, but She Said They Should Talk to Her Lawyer
Her Manager’s IMPOSSIBLE Demands Were Proven to HR in a Spectacular Case of Malicious Compliance!
Casey’s tale of workplace struggle took an unexpected turn when she sought revenge on their demanding Department Manager. After documenting the unbearable workload, Casey’s actions lead to a surprising twist of events, leaving Hannah to face the consequences of her unfair demands. Her Manager’s IMPOSSIBLE Demands Were Proven to HR in a Spectacular Case of Malicious Compliance!
She Banned Her Housekeeper From Working at Her Mother-In-Law’s House
A stressed-out mom took to Reddit for opinions after she refused to share her housekeeper with her mother-in-law. The problem was they were sharing something else, too. Here is the full story. She Banned Her Housekeeper From Working at Her Mother-In-Law’s House
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Rattiya Thongdumhyu. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.