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29th Aug 2023

Live worm found in woman’s brain in world first

Joseph Loftus

It’s a world first

A live worm has been found inside a woman’s brain in a world first discovery.

The woman, originally from England though now living in Australia, was experiencing forgetfulness and depression.

The 64-year-old was admitted to hospital in January 2021 after three weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhoea as well as a dry cough and night sweats – though in 2022 her symptoms got worse, including forgetfulness and depression.

Medical professionals were then prompted to defer her to Canberra Hospital.

An MRI scan of the woman’s brain discovered a parasitic roundworm, or more specifically, a motile helminth.

The worm was living in the right frontal lobe section of her brain. Doctors then successfully removed the roundworm, which measured 8cm in length, and 1mm in diameter.

The worm was identified as a third-stage larva of the Ophidascaris robertsi nematode species and marks a world first for its discovery inside the human brain. According to Sky News, this parasitic worm typically lives in the digestive tract of carpet pythons indigenous to the Australian state of New South Wales.

Doctors have theorised that the woman inadvertently ingested the worm’s eggs by eating edible grasses which were tainted with snake faeces, however they cannot be certain.

Professionals believe that the eggs may have hatched within her body prompting the larvae to travel to her brain.

They explained: “We hypothesised that she inadvertently consumed eggs either directly from the vegetation or indirectly by contamination of her hands or kitchen equipment.”

Initially docs discovered the “string like structure” in her brain and then it began to move – much to their astonishment.

Half a year on from surgery the woman’s forgetfulness and depression have shown signs of improvement, though they still persist to some extent.

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