A woman in Australia who complained of stomach upset, forgetfulness and depression had a 3-inch worm removed from her brain in what doctors say was a first, according to Reuters.
The 64-year-old woman came to the hospital complaining that she had had abdominal pain and diarrhea. Her symptoms grew worse, and she said she was having trouble remembering things.
According to The Guardian, the woman developed respiratory symptoms and medical scans revealed issues with her lungs and liver. When neurological symptoms began to develop, the woman underwent an MRI where a mass was seen in her brain.
Doctors began a biopsy of the woman’s brain and when they came to the mass, they saw something wiggle.
“We don’t find things that are surprising and when we do, that’s just unheard of,” said Surgeon Hari Priya Bandi, who was conducting the biopsy.
“I then picked it up and just went ‘look at it, what is that… It’s moving. Let’s take it out,” Bandi said, according to Australia’s Channel 7 News. “There was a moment for me for just feeling a bit nauseated,” she added.
The incident happened in January 2021. Bandi and infectious disease expert Sanjaya Senanayake are among several authors of an article that describes the case. It was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
According to Senanayake, the worm, “Ophidascaris robertsi,” is a roundworm that is usually found in pythons.
The worms normally develop in mammals, Senanayake said. It is the first time this parasite has been identified in a human being, according to NBC.
“It’s not meant to develop in her. It’s meant to develop in small mammals and marsupials. So she was an accidental host,” Senanayake said.
It is believed the woman contracted the worm after eating food growing near her home, a place native to the carpet python.
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