A British man lived for four years with a rare tapeworm in his brain, scientists have revealed.
The 1cm-long parasite left the 50-year-old man in pain and with memory problems as it travelled 5cm from the right side of his brain to the left before it was removed by surgeons.
The rare worm was of a type never before found in the UK but it is believed that it can be caught by eating infected food or via a Chinese medical remedy for sore eyes that includes raw frog.
The team which examined the worm said the victim, who has since recovered, was from a Chinese background and had lived in the UK for 20 years but visited China often.
Dr Effrossyni Gkrania-Klotsas, study author from the department of infectious disease at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, said: “We did not expect to see an infection of this kind in the UK, but global travel means that unfamiliar parasites do sometimes appear.”
Writing in the Genome Biology journal, scientists revealed that the patient went to hospital in 2008 suffering from headaches, seizures, altered smell ability, memory flashbacks and problems, plus increasing pain on his right-hand side.
Over the next four years he was tested for diseases including HIV, tuberculosis, lime disease and syphilis after MRI scans showed lesions in his brain.
Scientists at St Thomas’ Hospital in London finally diagnosed his affliction after taking a biopsy of his brain.
The tiny tapeworm, Spirometra erinaceieuropaei, was identified by a team of scientists led by Dr Hayley Bennett, from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute.
It has only been reported 300 times in the last 60 years,
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