Snake-parasitic worm found in Australian woman’s brain: ‘first case involving a mammal or human’

A 64-year-old Australian man suffering from amnesia has been diagnosed with an “unusual lesion” in the frontal lobe of his brain through an MRI scan.

It’s an Opitascaris robertsii, an eight-centimeter roundworm that the researchers say is a parasite of kangaroos and pythons in Australia. It parasitizes animals in other parts of the world, but it has never been detected in a human before.

“This is the first human case of Opitascaris described anywhere in the world,” said infectious disease specialist Dr Sanjaya Senanayake.

“To our knowledge, this is the first case involving the brain of a mammalian species, human or otherwise,” he said.

The discovery was the subject of an article in the journal “Emerging Infectious Diseases.”

Scientists believe the Australian became parasitized by edible plants, possibly contaminated by larvae present in snake droppings.

The parasite, whose “thread-like structure” showed up in brain scans, was later identified by DNA testing.

“Being sick first for anything in the world is never easy or desirable,” Dr. Senanayake added, “I cannot express enough our appreciation to this woman for her patience and courage throughout this process.”

According to Dr. Senanayake, “more cases may be identified in the future”.

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