If you feel abnormal pain, don't hold back and consult your GP before it gets worse. This is what happened with this 25-year-old Australian woman. She was prone to recurring headaches, but the young woman then had an unpleasant surprise when they found what was lodged in her brain.
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The story was first reported by CNN in 2020 after it was highlighted in a study in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
25-year-old woman suffered headaches
According to the publication, the Australian had been complainingabout recurring headaches for seven years. What's worse is that her headaches would last for a whole and it cause more severe symptoms such as blurred vision.
While medication would initially relieve her pain, the headaches would always come back to haunt her. After several tests, including MRI scans, the result was clear: it was a tumour. Or at least, that's what professionals thought.
But after removing the tumour in question, the doctors came across something completely improbable!
They discovered ‘a cyst filled with tapeworm larvae.’
Neurocysticercosis: an explanation
This phenomenon is called neurocysticercosis, or cerebral cysticercosis. The latter refers to being invaded internally by a tapeworm, especially when you eat meat which has not been cooked properly. The risk is especially higher when eating undercooked pork meat.
The CDC explains that a person can contract the infection when eating undercooked pork that has been infected by a tapeworm. The person will then likely pass the tapeworm eggs in their feces, but if they do not wash their hands properly afterwards, that's when they can contaminate other people. They state, taking the example of a woman:
If she doesn’t wash her hands properly after using the bathroom, she may contaminate food or surfaces with feces containing these eggs. These eggs may be swallowed by another person if they eat contaminated food. Once inside the body, the eggs hatch and become larvae that find their way to the brain. These larvae cause neurocysticercosis.
The disease is more prevalent in countries in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. The case of the Australian woman is unique because she had never left Australia and was considered low risk. She likely caught it from a carrier who was carrying the infection.
CNN: ‘Still alive and wriggling:’ Doctors remove 3-inch parasitic worm from woman’s brain in world first