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Woman Goes To Doctor About Shock-Like Feeling In Legs, Turns Out To Be Parasite In Her Spine

This article is gonna be tough. Strap in.

An unnamed woman in France had been dealing with odd pains in her legs for three months before they amplified into ‘electric shock’ levels of agony. A trip to the emergency room at Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Dijon revealed a parasitic tapeworm larvae that had burrowed into her spine. Here, see if you can stomach this X-ray of Madame Spine and her Unwanted Passenger from a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine:

Of all the places in body to hitch a ride, man. In addition to the pains in her legs, she was having trouble feeling her feet and was falling often. Her white blood cell counts were off the charts. All in all, a worthy trip to the ER, so when the hospital stepped up to an MRI, they found a lesion in her vertebrae. Doctors immediately operated upon to remove the foreign body.

Tests showed it was an Echinococcus granulosus, a tapeworm usually seen in livestock. In the rare cases of human exposure, these hellspawn generally don’t show symptoms of their objectionable parasitism until they’ve been in there for years. This lady had all the luck, though, and the bug found its way to the most delicate spot on the human body and registered all the crazy symptoms that an interrupted central nervous system could muster.

Let’s get our reactions out of the way:

Right. That feels better. If you’re wondering how she wound up with the parasite, the report stated that while she hadn’t been abroad, she did own a pet cat and had been in contact with cattle.

There is something of a happy ending here – while the report didn’t go to mentioning her quality of life in her post-op days, she was happily parasite-free nine months later. Either way, most examples of this parasite are found in Central and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. To be infected, humans have to ingest the eggs of the parasite, which is mostly found in the fecal matter of livestock. Eat clean, and you’ll be fine.

The better part of Twitter is unlikely to experience the disease, and yet, for some, nightmares abound.

Wash your hands, everybody.

H/T: Newsweek, New York Post 


Written by Chet Dawson

Reformed ruffian.