Parasites are very hard to identify. Usually doctors see the damage long before they realize what's causing it. Here are 8 cases of parasites that got into the body in the strangest ways and caused unbelievable damage before it was found and eliminated.
Roundworms from sushi in a woman's stomach
In a case published in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2016, a Japanese woman who ate raw salmon contaminated with parasitic warms was hospitalized with horrible stomach ache, chest pain, nausea and vomiting. The doctors inserted a camera into her intestine and found 11 parasitic roundworms of type Anisakis Larvae, commonly found in areas where people eat raw or under-cooked food, mainly seafood. Once the doctors fished the worms out from the woman's stomach the symptoms vanished and the woman was well again.
Brain inflammation due to infected transplanted organs
Organ donation is considered to be the most noble act of life saving. Who might have thought that by agreeing to donate organs you are practically signing the death certificate of other people?!
A rare case of donation of organs infected by parasite called Encephalitozoon cuniculi caused severe brain disease and death in one case.
A man who received a kidney from a certain female donor showed changes in his behavior and died shortly after. An autopsy conducted on him showed that a single-cell parasite affected his brain. The doctors suspected that the parasite originated from the transplanted organ and made efforts to find additional patients who accepted organs from the same female donor.
Apparently the patient who received the lady's liver had tremors and difficulties with walking. Another person who received the lady's heart and other kidney was hospitalized with Encephalitis - inflammation of the brain.
Parasite grows on contact lens
Everybody knows that contact lenses should be rinsed with a special solution, handled with clean hands and replaced often, yet not many are aware to the dangers of a contaminated contact lens. In a case reported on TV in 2013 a Teenager in Florida, who used contact lenses, felt pain in her left eye, swelling and redness. If she wouldn't have addressed it in time she might have suffered from serious damage to her vision, or even blindness.
The doctors found that her contact lens was infected with a parasite called Acanthemoeba, usually found in water and soil worldwide. Cases of contact lens infections by this parasite are rare, and estimated by CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to occur in 33 out of a million contact lens wearers.
Beef tapeworm lives in a man's small intestine for two years
In some cases a parasite infection may go undetected for some time, as it carried no or very slight symptoms. In a case reported in 2016 in The New England Journal of Medicine a 38 years old man was infected by a tapeworm - probably by eating raw beef meat. He went to seek treatment only a couple of years later, complaining of stomach ache, vomiting a total weight loss of 9 kg over a period of 3 years.
He brought with him a fragment of the worm that he found in his feces, which was the key to solving the mystery. The doctor was able to identify the worm and provide the patient with a medication that caused the extraction of the full worm from the body. Based on its length, 20 foot long, the doctors estimate that the worm was growing in the intestine of the man for over 2 years.
Hookworm in a women's knee
Two weeks after returning from a vacation in the Caribbean, a woman's knee a unique rash called "creeping eruption". This snake-like pattern was due to a parasite that crawled under her skin - a hookworm that commonly lives in warm and moist places. The case was described in the Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2017.
This parasite commonly attacks cats and dogs, and not humans. Since it can not reproduce in human body, it creeps around for a while and eventually dies. The rash was a result of the attach of the woman's immune system on the parasite.
A 6 foot long Pork tapeworm in a man's body
As mentioned before in this article, tapeworms may enter the human digestion system by eating raw or undercooked meat, and may reside there for a while before being detected as they may not caused any symptoms. In a case reported 2017 in The New England Journal of Medicine a tapeworm resided in a ma's intestine for a while and grew to the unbelievable length of 6 foot (1.8 meters).
It was spotted when a camera was inserted through the man's mouth to his digestion system. The worm was later extracted the same way - through the man's mouth.
Tapeworm inside a Colombian man develops cancer
In the case of a 41 years old man who was infected by a tapeworm parasite the story didn't have a happy end. The man had HIV and was not taking medications hence had a very weak immune system and couldn't fight the infection. The unbelievably rare occurrence was that while inside the man - the worm developed cancer , and sent metastasis through the man's blood stream to his lungs.
The doctors were amazed to learn that the tumors found in the man were not made of human cells but rather from cancer cells of the parasite, called Hymenolepis Nana - the most common type of tapeworm found in humans. 3 days after this shocking discovery the man died from his disease. His story was reported in The New England Journal of Medicine.
A flatworm causing extreme damage to a teen boy's eye
A teen boy in Mexico could barely see out of his right eye. The reason was a parasitic flatworm was "moving freely" in his eyeball, according to a September 2017 case report in The New England Journal of Medicine.
An eye exam revealed that the worm had burrowed holes in the boy's eyeball and was wriggling in and out of it. And his cornea (the translucent layer of the eye that covers the iris and pupil) was dotted with blood.
Doctors needed to surgically remove the worm, which was identified as a trematode or "fluke." During the operation, doctors noticed that the parasite had also badly damaged the retina, the tissue lining the back of the eye.
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