In California, one man is currently recovering after he had major emergency surgery in order to remove a living tapeworm from his brain. The surgery took place in August.
Luis Ortiz was admitted to a hospital in the city of Napa after he said that he had the single worst headache of his entire life.
Neurosurgeon Soren Singel conducted a scan of his brain. At that time, he discovered the single larva of a tapeworm, and he informed the man that he only had about 30 minutes to live.
According to doctors, the tapeworm grew inside of a cyst that cut off both circulation and water flow to the other parts of his brain.
Ortiz said, “”I stood up and then I threw up. The doctor pulled it out and he said it was still wiggling, and I’m like ‘Ugh, that doesn’t sound too good.'”
According to the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the introduction of larval cysts into the brain is known as neurocysticercosis.
These incidents typically occur after a person inadvertently consumes microscopic eggs that come from an intestinal pork tapeworm. These eggs can be passed through bowel movements, but if they hatch, the newborn creatures can reach the brain.
If the eggs do hatch while they are in the body, the newborn tapeworms travel to the brain, where they cause major destruction. According to medical experts, roughly 1,000 people every year are hospitalized for neurocysticercosis and the associated removal of tapeworm larvae.
For now, Ortiz is still recovering from the surgery. He is hoping to resume his education at Sacramento State University, where he was in his final year before graduating. The unexpected surgery and recovery period put a delay on his plans.
Ortiz said, “It’s probably more gratifying to me to be living, because if I would have waited a little bit longer, then I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”
Just another reason to wash your hands after you go to the bathroom.