News 29 August 2023

Woman found with live worm in her brain in world first case

29 August 2023

In a groundbreaking discovery, scientists have announced the unprecedented identification of a live 8cm worm within the brain of an Australian woman.

It marks the first known case of such an invasion and development from this species in the human brain in the world.

The astonishing incident unfolded during surgery in Canberra last year, when surgeons removed the “string-like structure” from the patient’s damaged frontal lobe.

Dr. Hari Priya Bandi, the operating surgeon, described the shocking moment the worm was discovered, stating, “It was definitely not what we were expecting. Everyone was shocked.”

The woman, aged 64, had been suffering from various symptoms for months, including stomach pain, cough, night sweats, forgetfulness and depression, which culminated in her hospitalisation in January 2021.

The parasite – believed to be an Ophidascaris robertsi roundworm, commonly found in carpet pythons – could have been living in her brain for up to two months.

Experts warn that as human populations encroach upon animal habitats, these incidents are likely to increase. Dr. Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases expert, commented, “This is an issue we see again and again… Whether it’s Nipah virus, a coronavirus like SARS or MERS, it is really important for epidemiologists and governments to ensure they have good infectious diseases surveillance.”

The woman, who lived near a lake area and likely came into contact with the worm-contaminated native grass, Warrigal greens, is recovering well.

[Image via Shutterstock]