Live worm found in woman’s brain in world first discovery
The woman had been experiencing forgetfulness and depression before doctors discovered the worm.
A live worm has been found inside a woman’s brain in a world first discovery.
The 64-year-old woman, originally from England though now living in New South Wales in Australia, was admitted to hospital in January 2021 after three weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhoea, as well as a dry cough and night sweats.
In 2022, her symptoms got worse, also including forgetfulness and depression. This led medical professionals to refer her to a Canberra Hospital.
An MRI scan of the woman’s brain discovered a parasitic roundworm, or more specifically, a motile helminth.
The worm was living in the right frontal lobe section of her brain. Doctors then successfully removed the roundworm, which measured 8cm in length and 1mm in diameter.
It was identified as a third-stage larva of the Ophidascaris robertsi nematode species. This marks a world first for its discovery inside the human brain.
Neurosurgeon Dr Hari Priya Bandi describes her "shock" at discovering an 8cm-long roundworm in the brain of a patient, adding that the parasite was still "wiggling" as she removed it.
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Where did the worm come from?
According to Sky News, this parasitic worm typically lives in the digestive tract of carpet pythons indigenous to the Australian state of New South Wales.
Doctors have theorised that the woman inadvertently ingested the worm’s eggs by eating edible grasses which were tainted with snake faeces. However, they cannot be certain of the cause.
Professionals believe that the eggs may have hatched within her body prompting the larvae to travel to her brain.
They explained: “We hypothesised that she inadvertently consumed eggs either directly from the vegetation or indirectly by contamination of her hands or kitchen equipment.”
Initially docs discovered the “string like structure” in her brain and then it began to move, much to their astonishment.
Half a year on from surgery and the woman’s forgetfulness and depression have shown signs of improvement, though they still persist.
Main image via Canberra Health
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