Chinese Man Suffered From Headaches And Flashbacks, Doctors Find Rare Tapeworm In His Brain

A Chinese man, living in England, was experiencing painful headaches, strange flashbacks, and weird smells. The issues became so unbearable that he decided to visit a doctor for a cure. Baffled, physicians ordered a scan and found a strange spot on his brain. Doctors monitored the man over the course of four years, each visit completing another scan, and noticed the spot was slowly moving inside his brain. A biopsy was finally ordered, shocking physicians when the spot turned out to be a parasitic tape worm.

The tape worm measure one centimeter in length and traveled a total of five centimeters over the four year period, according to Sky News. The species, Spirometra erinaceieuropaei, is known to create inflammation within tissues. The symptoms of its infection can cause headaches, memory loss, and even seizures. It is unknown exactly how the man became infected. However, some means of coming into contact with the parasite are eating crustaceans that are infected, ingesting raw meat form an amphibian or reptile, or using a frog poultice to cure sore eyes, a popular Chinese remedy. Reported cases of the parasite have only occurred 300 times in the U.K. since 1953.


The Guardian reported a sample of the tape worm’s DNA was take to further study the creature. However, the DNA was minuscule, so care is to be taken in regards to the information they receive from it. Dr. Haley Bennett hopes the DNA and study of the tape worm will help in future cases.

“This worm is quite mysterious and we don’t know everything about what species it can infect or how. Humans are a rare and accidental host. for this particular worm. It remains as a larva throughout the infection. We know from the genome that the worm has fatty acid binding proteins that might help it scavenge fatty acids and energy from its environment, which may be one the mechanisms for how it gets its food.”

She continued, “This genome will act as a reference, so that when new treatments are developed for the more common tapeworms, scientists can cross-check whether they are also likely to be effective against this very rare infection.”

Since the extraction of the parasitic tape worm, the man is feeling much better, and has not experienced the symptoms that originally took him to the hospital. Unlike the woman who purposefully fed her daughter a tape worm, as reported previously by the Inquisitr, the Chinese man is happy to be rid of the parasite.

[Photo Courtesy: Sky News]