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Live tapeworm found inside man’s brain

California. What Luis Ortiz thought was an ordinary headache almost cost him his life.

Last August, the 26-year-old student started experiencing headaches which he ignored at first. When he had what he felt was the worst migraine of his life, he was taken to the Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa Valley after his mother called 911.

Neurosurgeon Soren Singel performed a brain scan and discovered that the culprit for his headache was actually a live tapeworm. He was then advised to undergo immediate surgery, explaining that he had only thirty minutes to live.

via Alamy
Tapeworm (via Alamy)

The patient was put into a coma and doctors used a camera to go inside his brain. There, they found a sac of larvae from the tapeworm. The parasite had grown inside a cyst that cut off the circulation and water flow inside Ortiz’s brain.

In an interview, Ortiz said, “The doctor pulled it out and he said it was still wiggling…what are the odds I’d get a parasite in my head?”

Today, he is recovering from the surgery and hopes to return to school to finish his final year. ““My memory is like a work in progress. It gets better from therapy,” he said adding that he has to remind himself to do memory exercises daily.

According to the US Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), larval cysts in the brain are called neurocysticercosis. A person gets it when he swallows microscopic eggs passed in the faeces of an individual who has an intestinal pork tapeworm. It’s also possible to acquire the condition by eating uncooked pork, swimming in rivers, or if visiting a developing country.

Featured image via AP/MedicalDaily

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