A British man suffered from terrible headaches, along with fatigue and other symptoms that the doctors could not explain. His case has intrigued doctors for 4 years before they notice that a mass was moving inside his brain. What they discovered is amazing: a worm!
It took 4 years for the doctors at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge to discover a half inch worm housed inside the brain of this man.
The Chinese patient, aged 50, had settled in Britain for 20 years. Suffering from recurrent headaches as well as memory and smell disorders, he ran to the hospital to find the cause.
After an MRI, doctors have noticed a small circular object on the patient’s brain. Unable to determine the cause, he had to undergo a series of tests for suspected diseases, but all results were negative.
It was during an ultimate MRI that doctors were overwhelmed by their discovery. The circular form, which appeared on the previous MRI had moved from one side to the other of the patient’s brain. Comparing snapshots scanners from 4 years ago, doctors have noted that they were all different. Indeed, this foreign body had moved 2 inches from the right side to the left side of the brain.
At this point, only a biopsy could reveal the nature of this circular object. Thus, doctors could diagnose sparganosis, a rare parasitic infection caused by a tapeworm known as Spirometra erinaceieuropaei.
The worm, measuring about ½ inch long, was installed in the person’s brain for 4 years. However, surgery was needed for the doctors to take out the parasite,
Sparganosis, a very rare infection
This infection caused by the worm Spirometra erinaceieuropaei is indeed very rare. In reality, only 300 cases were recorded from 1953 to 2013 and most were reported in Asia.
The Spirometra erinaceieuropaei is transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals through consumption of undercooked meat (frogs, pigs, etc.) or infected water. Some techniques of Chinese medicine can also be the source of the contamination. A remedy for treating conjunctivitis, in particular, involves frog skin application on the eye.
The worm, larval, is generally installed under the skin, but may eventually touch the eyes and rarely the brain.
Because of its rarity, there is no specific treatment for this infection. “These worms are rather mysterious,” says Hayley Bennett, a geneticist at the Wellcome Trust Sanger institute in Cambridge – responsible for the team of the project for sequencing of the genome of the parasite removed from the brain of the British patient to find effective treatment against this infection. .
Doctors also stressed that the development of international mobility may contribute to increased risks of infection by this parasite.