A MAN was left horrified after doctors discovered a 4cm tapeworm had been burrowed in his brain for over a decade.
The unnamed patient, from Austin, Texas, believes he developed the parasitic infection as a result of eating under-cooked pork while he was in Mexico.
Known only by the name Gerardo, the man claimed he first suspected something was wrong when he began experiencing extreme headaches.
And he told CBS 21 that sometimes they became so sever they’d make him nauseous.
He said: “It’s very intense, very strong…it made me sweat too, sweat from the pain, pain in the head and then I would vomit from the pain.”
However, things took a turn for the worst last year when Gerardo passed out on the field during a football match.
He decided to get himself checked out and it was then that Dr Jordan Amadio, a neurosurgeon at Dell Seton Medical Center, made a shocking discovery.
A brain scan revealed a mass sitting near Gerardo’s brain stem and it appeared to be about 4cm long.
Medics decided to carry out further tests, which ruled out a tumour.
Doctors soon realised it was a “pretty big” tapeworm, which could have killed Gerardo if it had gone undetected much longer, claimed Dr Amadio.
Gerardo had urgent surgery to remove the tapeworm and he is now expected to make a full recovery.
Doctors have revealed that Gerardo had a type of infection called neurocysticercosis, which is the result of accidental ingestion of eggs of a tapeworm called Taenia solium.
Taenia Solium often infects pigs, laying larvae in them.
If pork isn’t properly cooked, humans can end up eating these larvae, which hatch in the intestines.
If people don’t pass the worms, their life cycle will continue, Taenia Solium will lay its eggs in the person’s body.
These larvae develop in sacs or cysts, that can travel around the body, in rare cases, reaching the brain as Gerardo’s did.
His surgeon is now warning people that this infection can easily go “undetected” and has urged medical professionals to be “more aware” of it.
Dr Amadio said: “This can go undetected for years, so you can eat by accident a microscopic egg from the tapeworm larva and not know it for years.
“They can grow inside the body without causing symptoms until they get big enough.”
He added: “There’s something, I think definitely for every medical professional to be aware of.
Tapeworms: the facts and figures
- Tapeworms are flat, ribbon-like worms that can live in the human gut if their eggs or newly hatched worms are swallowed.
- They are often discovered in human excrement and can be felt moving around in the colon.
- Other symptoms of tapeworm in the human body include diarrhoea, tummy pain, feeling sick, vomiting, changes to appetite and unexplained weight loss.
- More serious symptoms can appear if worms make their way to different parts of the body like the brain or the liver.
- Tapeworms can grow up to 55ft long and can survive in the intestine as long as 25 years.
- A tapeworm infection can be treated with a single tablet of a prescription medicine called niclosamide or praziquantel.
- The medication kills the worm so it passes out in your poo.
“It is not commonly seen and can actually masquerade as different things.”
Tapeworm infections are rare in the UK, but are fairly common in other parts of the world.
Tapeworms can grow up to 55ft long and can survive in the intestine as long as 25 years.