A California man says he went to an emergency room with a terrible headache and nausea, slipped into a coma, and when he woke up doctors told him a tapeworm larvae had been living in his brain.
College student Luis Ortiz of Napa told the Napa Valley Register (http://bit.ly/1RQzfHc ) that doctors said he needed immediate surgery to remove the tapeworm.
Ortiz's neurosurgeon, Dr. Soren Singel, says the worm had formed in a cyst that was blocking the flow of water to chambers in the brain, "like a cork in a bottle."
He says another 30 minutes of that blockage and the 26-year-old Ortiz would have died.
Singel says tapeworm eggs likely made it into Ortiz's intestine from unwashed food and eventually the larvae made it into his brain.
Surgeons successfully removed a tapeworm from the brain of a British man who was suffering from headaches, seizures, memory issues and altered smell, Health24.com reported.
The 50-year-old unidentified man was suffering from an infection caused by a rare species of tapeworm called Spirometra erinaceieuropaei, which is typically found in China, Japan South Korea and Thailand, according to the report.
An infection can occur when a person eats undercooked frogs or snakes, uses frog meat for treating wounds, or drinks contaminated water.
While tape worms usually live in the gut, causing a patient to suffer weight loss and abdominal pain, some are able to travel to the eyes, spinal cord and brain.
In a study published in the journal Genome Biology, researchers sequenced the genome of the tapeworm after it was extracted from the man’s brain, and pinpointed genes that provide drug resistance in patients battling the infection.
“The infection is so rare worldwide and completely unexpected in this country that the patient was not diagnosed … until the worm was pulled out from the brain,” Hayley Bennett, lead study author said in a news release.
“By comparing the genome to other tapeworms we can see that certain gene families are expanded – these possibly underpin this worm’s success in a large variety of host species,” Bennet said. “The data gave us a first look at a whole group of tapeworms that have not been sequenced before.”
The research team believes the gene study may help improve drug treatment for patients who contract the rare infection, Health24.com reported.
A Colombian man's lung tumors turned out to have an extremely unusual cause: The rapidly growing masses weren't actually made of human cells, but were from a tapeworm living inside him, according to a report of the case.
This is the first known report of a person becoming sick from cancer cells that developed in a parasite, the researchers said.
"We were amazed when we found this new type of disease — tapeworms growing inside a person, essentially getting cancer, that spreads to the person, causing tumors," said study researcher Dr. Atis Muehlenbachs, a staff pathologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Infectious Diseases Pathology Branch (IDPB).
The man had HIV, which weakens the immune system and likely played a role in allowing the development of the parasite cancer, the researchers said. Although the man's case is probably a rare one, the researchers noted that both tapeworms and HIV affect millions of people worldwide, "so there may be more cases that are unrecognized," Muehlenbachs said. [10 Deadly Diseases That Hopped Across Species]
The 41-year-old man first went to doctors in Colombia after experiencing a fever, cough and weight loss for several months. The man had been diagnosed with HIV more than 10 years earlier, but was not taking his medications.
A CT scan showed tumors in his lung and lymph nodes, but biopsies of these tumors revealed bizarre cells, leading Colombian doctors to contact the CDC for assistance in diagnosing the man.
The cells, when examined under a microscope, acted like cancer cells — they multiplied quickly and crowded together. But the cells didn't appear to be human, they were 10 times smaller than human cancer cells.
After a number of tests, the researchers found DNA from a type of tapeworm called H. nana in the man's tumor. This result was surprising, the researchers said, because the cells did not look at all like tissue from a tapeworm. But further tests confirmed that the cells were indeed from H. nana.
The researchers hypothesized that, because the man had HIV, the tapeworm kept growing in the body, unchecked by the immune system. Eventually, mutations developed in the tapeworm's cells that turned the cells cancerous.
The patient died just 72 hours after researchers determined that the tumors were caused by H. nana.