Parasitic Worm Doctors Remove 3, From Woman’s Brain In World First Still alive and wriggling.


Parasitic Worm: When a 64-year-old Australian woman was brought in for brain surgery, neurosurgeon Dr. Hari Priya Bandi did not anticipate having to remove a live parasitic roundworm that was 8 centimetres (3 inches) long and wriggled between her forceps.

Bandi said of the first ever discovery of a live worm inside a human brain: “I’ve only come across worms using my not-so-good gardening skills… I find them terrifying and this is not something I deal with at all”.

Expert in infectious diseases at Canberra Hospital Sanjaya Senanayake told CNN that the discovery set off a frenzy to identify the parasite.

An animal parasitology specialist at a governmental scientific research agency located just 20 minutes away was contacted by a coworker in the hospital lab, and they were able to find their unexpected solution.

Senanayake stated that the live wiggling worm was sent to the man and that he was able to see it and recognize it right away.

According to a press release from the Australian National University and the Canberra Hospital, molecular tests established that it was Ophidascaris robertsi, a roundworm typically found in pythons.

Senanayake, who is also a professor at Australian National University, added that to his knowledge, this is also the first case to involve the brain of any mammalian species, whether it be human or not.

The patient allegedly resided in southeast New South Wales close to a carpet python-inhabited lake area. Although she had no direct contact with the reptiles, it is likely that she picked the roundworm from Warrigal greens, a native leafy vegetable that she cooked and consumed.

The medical professionals and researchers who worked on her case hypothesised that a carpet python may have transferred the parasite by depositing its waste into the greens, which the patient then touched and subsequently contaminated with food or other cooking implements.

Exactly how the worm was found.

The woman was initially admitted to a neighbourhood hospital in late January 2021 following three weeks of diarrhoea and abdominal pain, which were followed by a persistent dry cough, a fever, and night sweats.

She was taken to a hospital in the nation’s capital of Australia after her symptoms progressed to include depression and forgetfulness. There, an MRI scan revealed something unusual in the patient’s right frontal lobe of the brain.

The Ophidascaris robertsi parasite is typically carried by carpet pythons in Australia, where the eggs are shed in the faeces and spread through the vegetation that marsupials and small mammals eat. The cycle is eventually completed when pythons consume the same infected animals. The parasite that lives inside the snake, ending the cycle.

parasitic worm
The 64-year-old woman suffered forgetfulness and depression before undergoing brain surgery. The 64-year-old woman suffered forgetfulness and depression before undergoing brain surgery. Credit: Hossain M/Kennedy KJ/Wilson HL/ credit:

According to Senanayake, the patient in this case was probably the worm’s unintentional host. The parasite is extremely invasive, and it is likely that larvae, or juveniles, were found in the woman’s lungs and liver as well as other organs.

Senanayake claimed that the incident demonstrated the growing risk of diseases and infections spreading from animals to people, particularly as human populations continue to encroach on animal habitats.

“There are more opportunities for interaction between people, domestic animals, and wild animals, as well as between them and the surrounding vegetation. In other words, this is just another indicator that we will see more new infections in the future, according to Senanayake.

In the past thirty years, he claimed, 30 new infections had been discovered worldwide. And of those new infections, about 75% were zoonotic, which means coronaviruses were transferred from the animal kingdom to the human realm.

“This Ophid Ascaris infection is not contagious, so it won’t result in a pandemic like SARS, COVID-19, or Ebola. However, the snake and parasite are widespread, so it is likely that additional cases will be identified in the upcoming years in other nations,” Senanayake said.

“This case also has a message about foraging. Washing hands after handling foraged goods is advised for those who forage. Any wild ingredients used in salads or cooking should also be thoroughly cleaned”.

Different tapeworm larvae.

Unlike recent reports of people experiencing excruciating headaches after having tapeworm larvae discovered in their brains, this case in Australia is completely distinct from those.

When larval cysts form in the brain, the condition is known as neurocysticercosis and can result in neurological symptoms.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people become infected with the parasite after ingesting eggs found in an intestinal tapeworm sufferer’s faeces. Every year, just the US reports more than 1,000 cases.

A 25-year-old Australian woman was diagnosed with tapeworm larvae in her brain last year after experiencing a headache for more than a week, according to a study.

Her brain’s MRI suggested a tumour might be the source of her pain, but after they operated and removed the lesion, they found it was actually a cyst containing tapeworm larvae.



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