A live five-inch worm has been taken out of a Chinese man’s brain after the parasite remained inside his body for 17 years, according to reports.
The 23-year-old said he started suffering numbness in his hands and feet since the age of six. He finally went to a hospital after losing sensation in the right half of his upper body.
Doctors suggested the patient’s infection was a result of consuming raw or half-cooked exotic meat, such as frogs or snakes.
The incident was brought to light after surgeons successfully removed the tapeworm from the man’s brain on Tuesday at the First Affiliated Hospital of Wuchang University in the eastern Chinese province Jiangsu.
The patient, known by his surname Chen, told doctors that he started experiencing numbness in his hands and feet 17 years ago. He also had headaches and nauseas occasionally.
As his parents always had difficulty moving their limbs, Mr Chen ignored the symptoms and never went to a hospital, believing they were genetic problems, a medic told Jiangsu Television.
The Chinese man eventually sought medical attention in 2015 after he lost sensation in the right half of his upper body.
‘Half of my upper body was completely numb,’ Mr Chen said to Pear Video. ‘I couldn’t feel my hand and couldn’t lift it.’
After conducting a CT scan, doctors found the twisted parasite inside the patient’s brain. Mr Chen was diagnosed with sparganosis mansoni, a rare parasitic disease.
Although medics are still determining the exact cause of Mr Chen’s condition, they say his infection is mainly a result of drinking contaminated water or consuming undercooked wild animal meat, such as frogs or snakes.
‘Once the worm enters the human’s body, it would cause severe infection,’ a medic told reporters.
‘The parasite would ‘eat’ the brain and damage its function, which causes numbness in hands and feet or affect one’s intellectual.’
When Mr Chen was first diagnosed at the age of 18, the surgeons had decided to delay the removal surgery because the location of the parasite was not suitable for operation.
He had been receiving conservative management until recently when he was scheduled to undergo the procedure on August 25.
The man is slowly recovering after doctors successfully removed the live worm which measured about 12 centimetres (five inches).
It is estimated to have stayed in Mr Chen’s brain for 17 years as the man first developed symptoms aged six, said Chinese media.
In April, a 23-year-old Chinese woman also had a live six-inch worm removed from her brain after doctors linked the parasite to the eating of raw wild animal meat.
The patient, known by her alias Xiao Yi, went to a local clinic in Jiangsu province of eastern China in January after having continuous headaches.
The doctors performed brain surgery on the woman after she tested positive for being infected with parasites.