Australian doctors have found a live parasitic worm eight centimeters-long, typically found in snakes, in a woman’s brain after surgery which is a world-first discovery.
In a new study published on Tuesday, researchers from the Australian National University, ANU, and Canberra Hospital disclosed that the Ophidascaris robertsi roundworm which is a parasitic worm usually found in pythons, was pulled from the patient, a 64-year-old woman, still alive and wriggling after brain surgery.
The study disclosed that the patient was admitted to a local hospital in south-east New South Wales in 2021 after three weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhea.
In 2022, after she started experiencing forgetfulness and depression, a neurosurgeon at Canberra Hospital identified an abnormality in the right frontal lobe of the brain from an MRI scan, prompting the surgery that discovered the roundworm.
The study hypothesizes that the patient was probably infected by touching, or eating, native grasses that a carpet python had shed the parasite into.
A leading infectious disease expert from ANU and the Canberra Hospital, Sanjaya Senanayake said in a media release that it was a world-first.
Dr. Hari Priya Bandi who pulled out the long parasitic roundworm that wriggled between her forceps said the results of the surgery was unexpected.
“I’ve only come across worms using my not-so-good gardening skills … I find them terrifying and this is not something I deal with at all”, Bandi told CNN.
The patient remains under monitoring by infectious disease and brain experts.