Brain Surgery Reveals Live Worm in Patient

An Australian woman is on the path to recovery after a live 3-inch worm was extracted from her brain. The worm, a parasitic roundworm, was removed by neurosurgeon Dr. Hari Priya Bandi during a surgical procedure performed on the 64-year-old patient. This is believed to be the first recorded instance of a live worm being discovered inside a human brain.

Dr. Bandi, who is more accustomed to encountering worms in her gardening endeavors, expressed her shock at the discovery. The worm was extracted from the patient’s damaged frontal lobe during a surgical procedure in Canberra in June 2022. It is speculated that the red worm could have been residing in the woman’s brain for up to two months.

The operating theatre was filled with astonishment when the surgeon used forceps to pick up an abnormality, which turned out to be a wriggling, live 8cm light red worm, according to Sanjaya Senanayake, an infectious diseases doctor at Canberra Hospital. He emphasized that this was a new infection never before documented in a human being.

The worm was sent to an animal parasitology expert at a governmental scientific research agency for further examination. Tests confirmed that the worm was an Ophidascaris robertsi, a roundworm typically found in pythons. The patient resided near a lake area in New South Wales, which is home to carpet pythons. It is believed that she contracted the roundworm after foraging for a leafy vegetable known as Warrigal greens, which she then cooked and consumed. It is suspected that a snake may have transmitted the parasite into the greens through its feces.

The woman, who is reportedly recovering well, was admitted to a local hospital in January 2021 after experiencing three weeks of abdominal pain and diarrhea. She also had a persistent dry cough, fever, and night sweats. Her symptoms later evolved into increasing forgetfulness and depression. An MRI scan at a hospital in Canberra revealed something unusual in her right frontal lobe.

Senanayake believes that this will not be the last case of its kind. He noted that while this Ophidascaris infection does not transmit between people and won’t cause a pandemic like SARS, COVID-19, or Ebola, the snake and parasite are found in other parts of the world. Therefore, it is likely that other cases will be recognized in the coming years in other countries. He also emphasized the importance of hygiene when foraging, advising people to wash their hands after touching foraged products and to thoroughly wash any foraged material used for salads or cooking.