A living worm discovered in the brain of a woman in a first world discovery | world news

A woman who suffered from forgetfulness and depression had an 8cm long parasitic roundworm removed from her brain.

The 64-year-old Englishwoman, who lived in New South Wales, Australiawas admitted to hospital in January 2021 after three weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhoea, followed by a dry cough and night sweats.

By 2022, his symptoms had evolved to include forgetfulness and depression, prompting medical professionals to refer him to hospital in Canberra.

An MRI of his brain revealed that a motile helminth – a parasitic roundworm – was living in the lesion in the right frontal lobe of his brain.

Surgery became the only option and doctors managed to remove the roundworm, which measured 8cm (80mm) in length and 1mm in diameter.

The neurosurgeon behind the operation, Dr Hari Priya Bandi, spoke to Sky News, describing the case as a ‘mystery’ when it was first presented to her team.

After the scan, Dr Bandi explained how a “distinct abnormality” was present in his brain and was changing rapidly over time.

She added: “It was certainly different from the textbooks on parasites in the brain and no one had seen anything like this case.”

“It was moving!”

During the operation, Dr. Bandi used forceps to lift the unknown entity from the brain and said: “To my surprise, there was a linear red line moving… We could see it moving!”

“[It was] surprising for us and it’s not at all what we are used to when we perform such a planned surgery… but [it was] an answer to this woman who had suffered for so long.

The woman was “happy” to receive an explanation of her symptoms, according to the neurosurgeon who added that treatments were available despite the rarity of the case.

The Fate of the Worm

Dr Bandi said he was examined by an infectious disease specialist immediately after his removal, as well as a veterinary scientist who said: ‘It looks so red’ – distinct from a nematode or an ascaris.

The worm was transported to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Canberra where it “was still moving rapidly…and after three days was still wriggling quite happily”.

It was then “sliced ​​for genetic typing”.

Ascaris alive after being removed from the patient’s right frontal lobe. Photos: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Identified as a third-stage larva of the roundworm species Ophidascaris robertsi, the case is unprecedented in medical history and has been documented in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Typically, this parasitic worm lives in the digestive tract of native carpet pythons in the Australian state of New South Wales.

Medical professionals suspect the woman may have inadvertently ingested the worm’s eggs while eating edible grass contaminated with snake droppings. However, the actual cause cannot be confirmed.

After the eggs hatched in her body, doctors believe the larvae embarked on a journey to her brain. This may have been influenced by the medications she was taking, which compromised her immune system.

“We hypothesized that she had inadvertently consumed eggs either directly from vegetation or indirectly through contamination of her hands or cooking equipment,” the doctors said.

An image of the woman’s brain showing the injury to the right frontal lobe

Ordeal started in 2021 – with evolving symptoms

The woman’s ordeal began in January 2021 when she was admitted to a hospital in Canberra.

Despite extensive examinations, the results of his numerous medical examinations are inconclusive. Eventually, he was diagnosed with pneumonia from an undisclosed source and prescribed steroids.

Although her condition initially showed signs of improvement, she found herself readmitted to hospital a few weeks later with a fever and a persistent cough.

Doctors suspected the presence of T-cell-induced hypereosinophilic syndrome, a potentially life-threatening disease characterized by overwork of the immune system. To remedy this problem, he was given immunosuppressive drugs as part of his treatment.

The worm seen under the microscope

A CT scan also revealed multiple troubling findings, including lung opacities and liver and spleen damage.

Three weeks later, his condition worsened, necessitating his admission to a tertiary hospital. With a persistent fever and cough, her medical team intensified the investigation.

In January 2022, she experienced further changes, including memory loss and worsening depression over a three-month period, prompting doctors to examine her brain.

Later scans revealed brain damage, which led to surgery in June of the previous year.

‘Rope-like structure’ found in brain

During the surgery, an unusual “thread-like structure” was discovered inside the lesion and, to the surprise of the doctors, it began to wiggle.

Examination of the worm indicated its affiliation with a family of parasites typically exclusive to snakes. This was the first documented case of such a parasite infecting a human.

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Subsequent medical procedures revealed no additional worms residing in her body.

Six months after the operation, although the woman’s memory loss and depression had shown signs of improvement, they persisted to some extent.

Medical experts have stressed the importance of continuous monitoring, as studies with rats have shown that the eggs of the worm can persist in the body for more than four years.

But they added that although this species of worm was known to infect the digestive system of animals, it had never been discovered in the brains of any species before.

Doctors said that while the worm in question is exclusive to Australia, there are similar species in other parts of the world, suggesting the possibility of later appearances.

They also pointed out that this case highlights the continuing danger of zoonotic diseases transmitted between humans and animals.

Zoonotic diseases, which are transmitted from animals to humans, are frequently mentioned as potential triggers of pandemics.

Source link: https://news.sky.com/story/live-worm-found-in-womans-brain-in-world-first-discovery-12949900

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