Man who went to hospital with cough shocked to discover he’s swarming with tapeworms
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A patient who went to hospital with what he thought was a persistent cough had a skin-crawling shock when the reason behind it turned out to be dozens of tapeworms.
A horrifying x-ray of the discovery was shared on Twitter by Dr Vitor Borin P. de Souza, a practitioner at the Hospital das Clínicas Botucatu in São Paulo, Brazil.
The unsuspecting patient was suffering from cysticercosis, also known as taeniasis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the infection is 'caused by the larvae of the parasite Taenia solium'.
It continues: "This infection occurs after a person swallows tapeworm eggs. The larvae get into tissues such as muscle and brain, and form cysts there."
The World Health Organisation states the condition can be caused by a lot of different tapeworms, but only the Taenia solium, causes serious health problems.
It can be passed between humans through contaminated faeces via tainted water supplies, inadequate hand hygiene during food preparation or directly through eggs in the meat.
The tapeworm usually stays in the intestines and causes no to mild symptoms - like stomach pain and diarrhoea.
But they can exit the intestine and travel elsewhere, such as the eyes, lungs, brains and spinal cord, and cysts that remain can cause problems if they develop there.
Nodule-like cysts are formed around the larvae to help them survive in the body - and these can be felt through the skin.
Each of the white dots on the horrifying x-ray image represents a cyst and the calcified remains of a parasite.
Cysts can take months or even years to develop after the ingestion of the tapeworm eggs eggs but can be removed easily through surgery or medication.
Dr de Souza said in the since-deleted thread that, despite appearances, there's actually little cause for concern, noting: "Cysticercosis is acquired from ingestion of tapeworm eggs (present in the faeces of humans with tapeworms).
"Don’t want to (catch) it? Wash your food well before consuming."
He explained that the patient was getting an MRI scan to check for the location of a cyst in his brain, which commonly causes headaches and seizures, but could also cause confusion, dizziness, infection, disturbed vision and hydrocephalus (an excess of fluid in the brain).
Surgery is usually required to remove the cysts in these cases.
"If you don’t have any injury inside the head, spinal cord or eyes, you don’t even need to treat," Dr de Souza insisted.
"These lesions are calcified so they are not viable cysticerci (tapeworm larvae)."
He concluded: "If it doesn’t cause any discomfort life goes on."