A 50-year-old Asian man, living in Britain spent four years of his life puzzling doctors with complaints of severe chronic headaches, seizures and memory flashbacks; only to be recently diagnosed as having a tapeworm burrowing in his brain.
Over the last four years, while the parasite was dwelling within the hosts brain, doctors had taken several MRI images and ran numerous tests for tuberculosis, HIV and Lyme disease. Time and time again, the medical specialists were left with more questions than answers until it was finally noted that an anomaly appearing on the MRI images, over the course of the last four years, had traveled a distance of 5 cm or 2 inches across a segment of the man’s brain. After closer examination, the blob that appeared on the MRI image was diagnosed to be a tapeworm and then defined as the root of the mysterious aliments.
Eventually, after a myriad of treatments had failed, due to the parasite’s immunity to all currently known ‘brain burrowing tapeworm’ removal medication, the creature was then surgically extracted. After the removal, the parasite had been identified to be a Spirometra erinaceieuropaei tapeworm, measuring 1 cm or roughly half an inch long.
This incredibly rare case is, 1 of 1,000 cases diagnosed in nearly 200 years, the second to be diagnosed in Europe and the first and only documented case in the U.K.
Predominantly, this type of tapeworm is more keen on burrowing itself into small crustaceans and amphibians that dwell in fresh water Asian lakes, but have been known to grow to lengths of 1.5 meters or 5 feet in the intestines of dogs and cats.
Although the parasite was living in the man’s brain, at no point in time was the man’s brain actually ingested or eaten by the worm. Anatomically, the Spirometra erinaceieuropaei tapeworm does not have a mouth, but it was able to sustain its self by absorbing nutrients while it burrowed its self in the hosts brain.
Medical specialists can only assume how the parasite ended up dwelling in the man’s brain tissue. On his own accord, the man had admitted to visiting China before the symptoms occurred, leading to the theories that he may have eaten raw amphibian or reptile meat, drank untreated water with small crustaceans living in it or applied a balm made out of deceased frogs directly into his eyes, to alleviate headache symptoms.
The world may never know how that parasite began to dwell inside the man’s brain?