Eating everyday foods may allow for a worm invasion of your brain and other parts of your body. Tapeworms, which take many forms, can migrate and settle in the eyes, tissues and brains of the bodies they invade to feed on. If they're in the brain, they can cause symptoms from headaches and seizures to an altered sense of smell and memory flashbacks.
A British man who was being treated for tuberculosis after complaining of various symptoms was later found to have a 1/3-inch-long, ribbon-shaped tapeworm living in his brain, reports New Scientist.
The 50-year-old man who first sought medical attention four years earlier, after getting headaches, was discovered in 2013 to have the Spirometra erinaceieuropaei tapeworm living in his brain, causing seizures and weakness in his legs.
“It had moved from one side of the brain to the other... very few things move in the brain,” Dr. Effrossyni Gkrania-Klotsas said. Until the worm was found during the surgery on the man’s head, doctors had never seen this tapeworm in the U.K., reports World Truth.
The man is thought to have contracted the worm during a trip to China just before his symptoms started to appear. The parasite is more common in China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea.
“We did not expect to see an infection of this kind in the U.K., but global travel means that unfamiliar parasites do sometimes appear,” said Gkrania-Klotsas.
This particular tapeworm is resistant to the drugs usually used to treat other tapeworms. Although the adult form of the Spirometra tapeworm only lives in the intestines of cats and dogs, reports Fox 8, after coming into direct contact with infected animals or ingestion, such as drinking infected water, the juvenile form of tapeworm, a larva, can invade human brains.
“Because it’s such a rare infection it’s not economically viable to create a drug just for this worm,” says geneticist Haley Bennett. Bennett, whose team in Cambridge, England, recently sequenced the genome of the worm, explains that by comparing the Spirometra tapeworm to other tapeworms, it is possible to determine what other drugs might work.
The appearance of the Spirometra tapeworm is rare and only 300 infections of the worm have been recorded between 1953 and 2013.
Photo Credit: WorldTruth.TV