Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – A live worm was found in the brain of a 64-year-old Australian woman. Reportedly, this event became the first case of infection in humans.
Launching from Al Jazeera, when doctors and researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) and Canberra Hospital found it, the 8 cm long nematode worm was still alive and writhing in the patient’s brain. In addition, worm eggs are also thought to have infected other organs of the female patient, including the lungs and liver.
“This is the first human case ever reported of Ophidascaris in the world. To our knowledge, this is also the first case involving the brain of a mammal, human or other species,” said Sanjaya Senanayake, an expert in infectious diseases at ANU and Canberra Hospital, quoted Wednesday (30/8/2023).
“Generally, the larvae of these nematode worms are found in small mammals and marsupials that are eaten by snakes, allowing their life cycle to complete inside the snake,” continued Senanayake.
According to the findings of the researchers, published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, it is likely that the female patient from New South Wales was infected after consuming Warrigal grass collected from near her home.
According to experts, these grasses are a habitat for pythons who may have excreted the eggs of this parasite in their feces. The nematode worm Ophidascaris robertsi is common in carpet snakes and lives in the snake’s esophagus and stomach.
ANU stated that nematode worms are very strong and can survive in various environments.
Previously, Canberra Hospital director of clinical microbiology and associate professor at the ANU School of Medicine, Karina Kennedy, said that the patient first complained of symptoms in January 2021 and had gotten progressively worse over three weeks.
“Initially, she had abdominal pain and diarrhea, followed by fever, cough and shortness of breath. In retrospect, these symptoms are likely caused by the migration of nematode worm larvae from the intestines to other organs, such as the liver and lungs,” said Kennedy. .
“Respiratory samples and lung biopsies were also performed. However, no parasites were identified in these specimens,” he continued.
In 2022, the female patient is experiencing signs of memory loss and depression. Based on the results of the MRI scan, there were lesions in his brain.
Upon investigation, neurosurgeons found an 8 cm long worm in the patient’s brain.
Senanayake said that this case demonstrated the increasing risk of disease transmission from animals to humans.
“There have been around 30 new infections in the world in the last 30 years. Of the infections that have emerged globally, around 75 percent are zoonotic, meaning there is transmission from the animal world to the human world. This includes the coronavirus,” said Senanayake.
“Ophidascaris infection is not transmitted between humans so it will not cause a pandemic like SARS, COVID-19, or Ebola. However, these snakes and parasites are found in other parts of the world so it is likely that other cases will be recognized in the next few years in developing countries. another,” he said
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