Texas Man Discovers Mystery Illness Was Caused By 10-Year-Old Tapeworm In Brain
A man who had been suffering from incessant headaches and vomiting is lucky to be alive after doctors discovered a tapeworm that had been lodged in his brain for a decade.
Medical professionals were finally able to identify the source of the man’s pain when he took himself to the hospital, and underwent a scan that revealed a 4cm-long mass sitting near his brain stem.
Doctors think the man, from Austin, Texas, contracted the tapeworm in Mexico more than 10 years ago after eating undercooked pork, and the worm has been growing inside his brain ever since.
The man, identified only as Gerardo, had been suffering with headaches for months. Sometimes they were so bad they’d make him nauseous; he even passed out once during a football game.
He told CBS 21:
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.
When he finally got himself checked out, Dr Jordan Amadio, a neurosurgeon at Dell Seton Medical Center, found the large mass on his brain. When further tests ruled out a brain tumour, doctors realised it was a tape worm – and a ‘pretty big’ one at that, the neurosurgeon said.
The tapeworm had caused an infection of the central nervous system called neurocysticercosis, which hospitalises an estimated 1,000 people in the United States each year. Those affected may have no symptoms, or they may suffer from abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, headaches, or seizures.
Thankfully, Gerardo realised something was wrong and got treated, and doctors were able to remove the parasite from his brain. He is expected to make a full recovery, though doctors said the worm and its larvae could have killed him.
Dr Amadio said:
In certain regions of the country, like Texas and California, this can be more common. So, there’s something I think definitely for every medical professional to be aware of. It is not commonly seen and can actually masquerade as different things.
This is because many people don’t know they have the infection for years, as it doesn’t always display symptoms. So if you do experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, make sure to get checked out – especially if you’ve been eating undercooked pork.
If you believe you might have a tapeworm infection, the Mayo Clinic recommends visiting your doctor for testing.
Hopefully Gerardo will make a full recovery. What a lucky escape!
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