In a stomach-churning medical first, a parasitic roundworm commonly found in snakes was removed “alive and wriggling” from a woman’s brain, according to Australian physicians on Tuesday.
After the 64-year-old Australian woman started having memory problems, perplexed medical professionals did an MRI scan on her and discovered an “atypical lesion” at the front of her brain.
Ophidascaris robertsi, a roundworm measuring eight centimeters (three inches), was found in the patient.
According to researchers, this parasite is prevalent in kangaroos and carpet pythons but not in people.
According to infectious disease specialist Sanjaya Senanayake, this is the first known instance of Ophidascaris in a human being.
To our knowledge, this is also the first instance in which a mammalian species’ brain, whether human or not, has been involved.
According to research reported in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, the patient was hospitalized in January 2021 after experiencing abdominal pain, diarrhea, and night sweats for three weeks.
She had been treated for pneumonia but had not entirely recovered from it. When her condition did not improve after three weeks, she was readmitted to the hospital again.
She received a number of therapies there before June 2022, when a lesion in her brain was discovered and an open biopsy was carried out.
The findings stated, “We observed a string-like structure within the lesion, which we removed; it was a live and motile helminth.
The parasite was then located via DNA analysis.
The woman is thought to have contracted the disease while searching for edible plants close to her home, which were probably tainted with parasite larvae shed in snake feces.
Being the first patient in the world for anything is never simple or desired, according to Senanayake. “I can’t express enough how much we respect this woman for her courage and patience throughout this process.”
Roundworms called Ophidascaris are known to infect animals in other parts of the world, according to Senanayake, who also predicted that “other cases will likely be recognized in coming years.”