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Saturday, December 4, 2021

‘I had a tapeworm in my brain for years and didn’t know it until I was hospitalised’


A man who suffered from constant headaches and had mysterious seizures was found to have tapeworms living in his brain for decades.

The gnarly find was discovered by researchers in Massachusetts last week who found the man to have an “altered mental state” due to the tapeworms that had burrowed themselves into his brain well over 20 years ago.

A man was found to have tapeworms living in his brain from over decades ago

The 38-year-old Guatemalan, who has not been identified and recently immigrated to the United States, underwent evaluation after suffering the first seizure that led to him “speaking gibberish.”

The findings, which were published in The New England Journal of Medicine last week, came after experts from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School began studying the man’s mysterious symptoms.

The researchers determined he had contracted the tapeworm while living in rural Guatemala and observing the man have a generalized tonic-clonic seizure.

Although the man’s eyes were open but had a slightly upward gaze, the man – who was combative and disoriented prior to his hospital arrival – did not respond to verbal cues or demands.

Doctors were alarmed as the man had no history of illness and likewise no medication or drug use and rarely drank alcohol.

They instead prescribed him two doses of lorazepam that were given intravenously seven minutes apart and placed a tube for airway protection.

When they took a chest radiograph and found everything was normal, they ruled out hyponatremia, renal dysfunction and liver dysfunction.

They then tested his vitals and saw his urine and serum toxicology panels were negative.

Dr. Andrew Cole then wrote in the report that the man had a CT scan for any brain lesions.

“It is likely that this patient underwent CT after arrival and stabilization in the emergency department, but if the CT study was negative, MRI would ultimately help us to carefully assess for a causative anatomical abnormality,” wrote Cole.

The doctors even had to administer an EEG which is very rare in an emergency department.

“The patient had evidence of three brain lesions, with one showing ring enhancement on MRI and all three showing partial calcification on CT,” Dr. George Eng wrote.

“The calcifying progression of the lesions may account for the absence of antibody positivity in this patient.”

“In addition, tests for antibodies against toxoplasma, Strongyloides, and treponema were negative, as were an interferon-gamma release assay and a purified protein derivative tuberculin skin test for tuberculosis,” Eng said.

After finding that he had lesions as a result of tapeworms, the man was placed on a strict six-week combination of albendazole and praziquantel and high-dose prednisone.

He was then put on another four-week tapering course and was released five days later.

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