For a 35-year-old French woman, a diagnosis of her tingling sensations in the legs was something quite unexpected. She had been having trouble walking, and also had issues when she tried to go horseback riding for about three months. The woman also reportedly fell down a few times, detailed USA Today. Worse yet, she was losing feeling in her legs and losing motor function in her feet.
The cause turned out to be a tapeworm in her spine.
At first when doctors at a hospital in Dijon took an X-ray of the woman’s spine, they couldn’t tell for certain what they were seeing. At the least, it appeared to be a “large round object” which was interfering with her central nervous system, hence the tingling and difficulty walking. Prior to the X-ray, doctors had determined that she had an infection of some sort by using a blood test, according to Gizmodo.
However, when doctors decided to operate on the woman, they found out that the “large round object” was actually a dog tapeworm in its larval stage. It was found in her ninth thoracic vertebra.
It’s rare to find a dog tapeworm, also known as Echinococcus granulosus, in a human being. It turned out that it entered her body and lodged in her spine. The dog tapeworm is pooped out by a primary host, which is then transmitted by other secondary hosts. Then, the eggs travel to the small intestine where they become cysts. These cysts then travel through the bloodstream and can attach to organs.
Other cases of tapeworm in humans have led to tapeworms being found in the lungs, the liver, central nervous system, or bones. It can also affect the spleen, muscles, and eyes, added the Daily Mail.
For now, it’s uncertain how the woman contracted the tapeworm to begin with, although some speculate that it may have come from her outdoor cat. Others think that it may have come from eating contaminated vegetables.
However, the woman said she had no contact with dogs at all, reported Live Science. In addition to dogs, other animals like sheep, foxes, and cows are known to be hosts of dog tapeworm.
Luckily for the woman, doctors were able to successfully remove the tapeworm and treat her with antiparasitic medication. The hole in her spine where the tapeworm was, was fixed using an implant. Now, the woman has made a full recovery, and has no indication of further infection or infestation.