Monsters Inside Me - Episode 10
Monsters Inside Me
New Series, Episode 10
Another of my write-ups, as I understood it, after watching Monsters Inside Me aired by Discovery/Animal Planet.
1997 – 7 year old adopted child from Nepal
Adoptive mother receives call from school. The child’s test scores were below what was expected from the girl. The teacher explained to her mother that the girl had been having a hard time focusing and paying attention in school. The girl receives extra lessons at home. But her school work does not improve. She can’t remember simple things.
One evening the girl said that her head hurt. She is taken to the doctors. The physician examines the girl but doesn’t find anything wrong. Although her mother is not convinced her daughter is ok, they continue with their lives.
A few weeks later, mother notices that her daughter is just staring ahead. She notices her daughter is just sitting there, she remains unresponsive. She appears unconscious. She is rushed to hospital by ambulance.
She is presenting with fits/seizures. She eventually gains consciousness. The doctor questions an infection in the brain and even a brain tumour. Tests are ordered including a CAT scan of the girl’s brain. They see a lesion. They see an outline of something. The scan is unusual and the doctor seeks a second opinion from an Infectious Disease Doctor. The scans are reviewed.
They see a long lesion which has fluid inside. This is what is causing the girl’s seizures. For three days the doctors subject the girl to a series of tests. Through the doctor’s experience and analysing the girl’s symptoms, the doctor thinks she knows what is wrong. The doctor thinks it is Neurocysticercosis, caused by a Pork Tapeworm. This is what is causing the girl’s seizures. The doctor immediately starts her on anti-parasitic drugs.
There are two different ways one can become infected. By eating pork or eating soil contaminated with eggs. This parasite can be found in Asia, Africa, South America and parts of Europe. To avoid infection, drink bottled water, eat food prepared in sanitary conditions. Avoid undercooked pork. It can go through many different forms – an egg, cyst, worm. It can live inside its host for years without detection.
The worm appears to have lodged in the girl’s brain. They think she contracted it at a very young age when she was living in Nepal. It could have been living in her for the last 4 years.
The Pork Tapeworm can cause seizures, coma and even death.
She appears to respond well to the anti-parasitic treatment. She receives repeated MRI scans and appears to recover well and the parasite is dead.
(When the programme aired it said the girl is now 19 years of age and appears to have had no lasting damage.)
The girl’s adoptive mother had adopted another girl from Vietnam (after her first adoptive child’s illness) and decided to have her second child checked out as the mother worried a similar condition could occur with her other daughter.
2009 – Male
Symptoms – blurry vision.
He calls his Optometrist for an appointment. The Optometrist examines his eyes. One of his eyes is inflamed. The other eye is fine. The Optometrist thinks he has a broken blood vessel and it is causing inflammation. He is placed on a course of steroid eye drops.
One week later, he has a new symptom. He is experiencing double vision. He is then sent to a Specialist. (Referred by his Optometrist). He has Uveitis – inflammation inside the eye. There is something wrong with his left eye. He can’t read the chart with his left eye.
I can’t recall the figure they gave describing his vision in his left eye but they described him as being legally blind in his left eye. His left eye had a grainy appearance. This suggests something is destroying his retina. If it gets to his good eye, he could go totally blind.
He sees another doctor. High resolution photos are taken of his left eye. The doctor searches for clues. He eventually sees something. He sees a small worm in his eye. They are shocked. It is roughly 1.5mm in length. But before treatment can begin, they have to identify it. They think it is the racoon roundworm. Eggs of the worm can get into human gut. Microscopic larvae emerge and burrow through intestinal wall. They can lodge in the eye. They eat the eye from the inside out.
As larvae, racoon roundworms can travel anywhere in the human body. It is a particularly dangerous worm as it can move rapidly throughout the body.
The doctor lasers the worm. It dies after laser treatment. After the treatment, the man questions how to get the dead worm out of his eye. They decide to leave it as it may cause more damage to try and get it out.
It is known as Balliascaris worm. They think 70% of racoons are infected with this parasite. It is rare for humans to catch this.
They think through the man’s lifestyle, this is how he picked it up.
The man’s prognosis was not good with regards to the vision in his left eye. The damage had been done. He has to adapt to his condition without vision in his left eye.
Symptoms: Stomach cramps, diarrhea.
Because of his medical background, he is able to treat himself with antibiotics. He thinks it could be traveller’s diarrhea.
Shortly after, he receives a call from a co-worker who explains that her husband has fallen ill with the same GI symptoms and that other anaesthesiologists are falling ill too with exactly the same symptoms. There are 15 others suffering the same symptoms and they are from two different counties.
An Infectious Disease Specialist is contacted where it is explained that many anaesthesiologists are falling ill with the same symptoms.
By the end of the week 29 anaesthesiologists across 3 counties have now fallen ill with the same symptoms. Stool samples from all the patients are analysed. All tests come back negative. They are perplexed but continue to search for answers.
A laboratory manager remembers reading an article about emerging parasitic diseases. She suspects that one of the lesser known organisms could be the culprit. She is interested in one but there is no test available so she tests samples herself. She finds Cyclospora. It fits the symptoms exactly.
It ravages the human gut. It attaches to the lining of the small intestine. There it forms a protective membrane around itself, preventing the host from absorbing nutrients. It causes severe diarhhea and vomiting.
It said that powerful antibiotics were prescribed to kill the parasite.
How did so many anaesthesiologists come down with the same parasite? There was a gathering at an event where all the infected anaesthesiologists had attended. There was a banquet and they all ate the same food. They ask the restaurant who supplied the food to provide a copy of the menu. It was obvious that after looking at the menu the culprit was the dessert! It was a raspberry dessert. The berries had been imported and because berries tend to break up when washed, they thought that perhaps they hadn’t been washed.
After one week of treatment, all anaesthesiologists begin to recover.
To help prevent contamination always wash fruit and vegetables.
I seem to recall watching that episode. I think it was the Sleeper Cell episode. Google Monsters Inside Me Sleeper Cells.
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