A groundbreaking medical case has emerged, where doctors successfully removed a live parasitic worm measuring three inches from a woman’s brain. This unprecedented discovery marks the first instance of a live worm being found inside a human brain.
Indian Australian Neurosurgeon Dr Hari Priya Bandi shared her astonishment,
“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.”
Dr. Bandi performed brain surgery on a 64-year-old woman and was taken aback when she pulled out an 8-centimetre (3-inch) long parasitic roundworm that was still wriggling between her forceps.
The revelation sparked intense curiosity among medical professionals to identify the parasite.
Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious disease expert at Canberra Hospital, recounted, One colleague in the hospital lab was able to reach an animal parasitology expert at a governmental scientific research agency just 20 minutes away – and found their unexpected answer.
“We were able to send the live wiggling worm to him, and he was able to look at it and immediately identify it.”
The parasite was identified as Ophidascaris Robertsi, a roundworm typically found in pythons, after a thorough examination and molecular tests.
Remarkably, this discovery also marks the first instance of such a case involving the brain of any mammalian species. Senanayake, who is also a professor at the Australian National University, highlighted the significance of this finding.
According to researchers, the patient lived near a lake area populated by carpet pythons in southeastern New South Wales. Although she had no direct contact with the reptiles, it’s believed that she contracted the roundworm after consuming Warrigal greens, a native leafy vegetable, which she cooked and ate.
The theory suggests that the parasite was spread to the greens through the faeces of a carpet python, ultimately contaminating the food.
The woman initially sought medical attention due to abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and other symptoms, which gradually escalated to more severe conditions affecting her brain. An MRI scan revealed an anomaly in the right frontal lobe of her brain.
Carpet pythons in Australia commonly carry the Ophidascaris robertsi parasite and spread it through their faeces. This transmission occurs through vegetation that small mammals and marsupials consume.
The parasite then completes its cycle when pythons ingest these infected animals. In this unique case, the woman unintentionally became a host for the worm, underscoring the potential dangers of diseases and infections crossing from animals to humans as human activities encroach further into natural habitats.
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