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AUSTRALIA: Neurosurgeon Remove Live Parasitic Worm From Woman’s Brain          

A Neurosurgeon Dr. Hari Priya Bandi has removed a living parasitic worm from the brain of a 64-year-old Australian woman in what is described as the world’s first.   

The patient was sent to hospital for brain surgery after suffering from abdominal pain and diarrhoea, followed by a constant dry cough, fever and night sweats, Dr.Bandi was not expecting to pull out a live 8-centimeter long parasitic roundworm that wriggled between her forceps.

“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 said of the world’s first discovery of a live worm inside a human brain.

The finding unleashed a mad scramble to find out what exactly the parasite was, one colleague in the hospital lab was able to reach an animal parasitology expert at the Australian National University and the Canberra Hospital. Following a molecular test, the worm was identified as Ophidascaris robertsi, a roundworm usually found in pythons.

Researchers say the patient lived near a lake area inhabited by carpet pythons in New South Wales. Although she did not have direct contact with the reptiles, it’s likely she caught the roundworm after foraging Warringal greens, a native leafy vegetable, which she cooked and ate.

The doctors and scientists involved in her case theorized that a carpet python might have spread the parasite via its faeces into the greens, which the patient then touched and cross-contaminated with food or other cooking utensils.

Senanayake said the case highlighted the growing danger of diseases and infections passing from animals to humans, especially as people encroach deeper into animal’s habitats.

“This Ophidascaris infection does not transmit between people, so it won’t cause a pandemic like SARS, COVID-19 or Ebola. However, the snake and parasite are found in other parts of the world, so it is likely that other cases will be recognized in coming years in other countries,” Senanayake said.