Australian doctors have found a live parasitic worm in a woman’s brain in a world-first discovery.
In a new study published on Tuesday, researchers from the Australian National University (ANU) and Canberra Hospital detailed the discovery of the parasitic roundworm.
The eight-cm Ophidascaris robertsi roundworm, which is usually found in pythons, was pulled from the patient, a 64-year-old woman, still alive and wriggling after brain surgery.
Sanjaya Senanayake, a leading infectious disease expert from ANU and the Canberra Hospital, said in a media release that it was a world-first.
According to the study, the patient was admitted to a local hospital in south-east New South Wales (NSW) in 2021 after three weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhea.
In 2022, after she started experiencing forgetfulness and depression, a neurosurgeon at Canberra Hospital identified an abnormality in the right frontal lobe of the brain from an MRI scan, prompting the surgery that discovered the roundworm.
The study hypothesizes that the patient was probably infected by touching, or eating, native grasses that a carpet python had shed the parasite into.
She remains under monitoring by infectious disease and brain experts