Canberra Health

Live Parasitic Roundworm Found In Patient’s Brain By Australian Surgeon

Australian medical experts have made a “once-in-a-career-time” discovery, finding a live 8cm-long parasitic roundworm from a female patient at Canberra hospital.

The neurosurgeon, Dr Hari Priya Bandi, pulled the worm from her patient from south-eastern New South Wales.

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She experienced a series of symptoms, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, cough, fever, night sweats, forgetfulness, and depression. 

Canberra hospital infectious diseases physician Dr Sanjaya Senanayake said the neurosurgeon did not expect to find a “wriggling worm”.

“Neurosurgeons regularly deal with infections in the brain, but this was a once-in-a-career finding. No one was expecting to find that.”

The 64-year-old has become the world’s first documented case of a parasitic roundworm known as Ophidascaris robertsi infecting a human brain. 

Dr Senanayake said the roundworm is usually found in pythons, small mammals, and marsupials, which the python eats.

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The patient was believed to have been infected after coming into contact with native grasses near a lake inhabited by carpet pythons. 

It’s suspected that the worm was shed by a python through its faeces, which then contaminated the grasses. 

The patient may have ingested the worm’s eggs by consuming the contaminated grass or touching it and transferring the eggs to food or utensils.

She is now recovering well and is still being regularly monitored by doctors.

The researchers’ findings are published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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