Teenager Dies After Tapeworm Lays Eggs That Buried Into His Brain

A teenager passed away after medics discovered dozens of tapeworm cysts had buried into his brain which left him suffering from seizures.

The 18-year-old man arrived at the emergency department with generalised tonic-clonic seizures, he was confused and had swelling over his right eye.

The teenager was treated in hospital but died. Credit: New England Journal of Medicine
The teenager was treated in hospital but died. Credit: New England Journal of Medicine

The patient's parents also reported that he had complained of pain in the right groin before doctors found tenderness in the right testicle.

The teen, who's identity has been kept anonymous, was taken for an MRI scan which shocked doctors when they realised that his brain was scattered with parasitic cysts, caused by a severe tapeworm infection.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, the cysts has buried in the outer layer of his brain as well as the brain stem.

Well-defined cysts were also found following on from ultrasonography of the eye and the right testis.

The scan of the teen's brain. Credit: New England Journal of Medicine
The scan of the teen's brain. Credit: New England Journal of Medicine

The Sun reported that this type of condition can be the result of eating infected pork which leads to an intestinal tapeworm infection before triggering more serious neurocysticercosis if it's untreated.

A decision was taken to refrain from treating the infection with antiparasitic medications because they can worsen inflammation which may lead to a loss of vision.

Although antiparasitic medications were not administered, he was given dexamethasone and antiepileptic medications but passed away two weeks later.

Doctors removed a four-inch-long parasitic tapeworm from this patient's brain. Credit: AsiaWire
Doctors removed a four-inch-long parasitic tapeworm from this patient's brain. Credit: AsiaWire

Back in 2017, a 19-year-old was successfully treated after a four-inch-long parasitic tapeworm was removed from his brain after living and growing for 24 months.

Wen Xiaoli accidentally cut his hand while killing a frog for food two years earlier - he had been experiencing intense migraines and even mild epilepsy, leading him to seek out experts in the city of Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province.

After detailed scans of his head at Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, doctors were stunned when they discovered he was suffering from a tapeworm infection known as sparganosis.

Not only was the parasite fully formed, it was also alive and appeared to be living comfortably off his brain cells.

The tapeworm. Credit: AsiaWire
The tapeworm. Credit: AsiaWire

Neurosurgeon Yang Zhiquan and his team advised Wen to operate, and they opened up his skull to retrieve the writhing tapeworm in a swift two minutes.

Speaking about the ordeal, the teen said: "I remember I was skinning a frog at the time when I cut my finger, and the larvae must have entered through the wound.

"No wonder my finger itched so much in the days that followed, but I didn't think too much about it - how was I supposed to know that it was a worm?"

Featured Image Credit: New England Journal Of Medicine

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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