Monsters Inside Me - Episode 5
Monsters Inside Me
New Series, Episode 5
Another of my write-ups, as I understood it, after watching Monsters Inside Me aired by Discovery/Animal Planet.
2009 – 21 year old male College Student
A red bump appearing on the young male student’s elbow was the first sign that something was wrong. He described it like a zit but thought it was a strange place for a zit to appear. He dismissed it and never really thought much more about it.
Two weeks later the bump had grown in size and it had begun to scab over. Next morning, the bump had broken open and was leaking a clearish, yellowish liquid. The young student said it didn’t look like normal puss and it had a horrible smell. He described the smell and likened it to sewer water.
He dresses the scab to keep it covered because the liquid is oozing out. He decides to see a doctor. The doctor hasn’t seen a wound quite like it and refers him to a Specialist. A Dermatologist looks at the wound. The wound is now 7cm across and is getting bigger by the day. The Dermatologist thinks that one possibility could be that it may be a staph infection, possibly from a scratch. (Staph infections are rapid and very contagious.)
The Dermatologist performs a ‘punch’ biopsy on the student’s skin in order to analyse a sample. While awaiting the results, he is prescribed an antibiotic lotion but unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be helping. The wound continues to grow in size.
Around two weeks later the results are in. He tests positive for Leishmaniasis. Leishmaniasis is a single celled protozoan parasite. Leishmaniasis is contracted through the Sand Fly. It enters through the skin. It hijacks the immune system. If Leishmaniasis spreads to the face it can be very, very serious and even fatal. It can cause obstruction in the throat and cause difficulty in breathing.
Overall I think it said he underwent 30 hours of treatments. The first 3 days after commencing treatment he feels awful, very tired and he loses 10lbs in weight. One week later he does notice changes and begins to feel better with notable improvement in the wound. The wound is healing and his skin begins to heal up and the wound starts to close.
He makes a full recovery but is left with a permanent reminder – a big scar on his arm.
She works as a volunteer worker at an animal shelter. She is allergic to cats but helps out regardless of her allergy. She is working with a small kitten who scratches her on the chest, on the breast to be precise. The kitten scratch punctures her breast. She doesn’t worry or think anything more of it.
Later that night, she begins to itch on the area the kitten had scratched her. She thinks it is to do with her allergy. Two weeks later, it isn’t a scratch anymore, it’s a wound the size of a quarter. It itches like mad and it’s relentless. A couple of days later she notices a ‘serpentine shape’ beneath her skin, exactly where she was scratched. She also feels like it is moving! She feels it move beneath her skin. She calls the doctor but unfortunately she can’t get an appointment for over a week.
The night before she is due to see the doctor, she presses her finger across the shape and it wriggles and is moving on its own. She is convinced there is a foreign body living under her skin. The shape is 5cm long.
When she sees the doctor he examines her. There is a worm growing under her skin! It is HOOKWORM!
Hookworm is picked up through contaminated soil. Cats who walk over infected soil can pick up the parasite on their paws. The parasite then enters the bloodstream and hooks onto the intestinal wall. It can also burrow through and reach organs in the body. If it reaches organs, it can be very dangerous.
She is prescribed an anti-parasite skin lotion (they didn’t say what lotion). After 4 days she notices a change – the worm is no longer moving. Four weeks later, after treatment, there is no trace of the worm.
I think it said there are around 30,000 reported cases of hookworm each year in the US.
Female Cattle Farmer
Symptoms start with an itch, with red blotch and rash on arm. She likens it to a mosquito bite. Her husband appears with the same rash and itch. They have been in hay fields and wonder if something has bitten them. Perhaps it’s something they have picked up through working on the farm. Two days later the rash and itch disappears. They give it no further thought.
The following Spring, the itch and rash returns. (The same happens to the husband, he has the same itch and rash. They both have a second occurrence of the same symptoms). But the second time around it appears over the woman’s chest and shoulder. They still don’t see a doctor and ignore it. Again, days later the itch and rash disappears. They put it out of their minds and don’t think anymore about it.
Again, the following year, the same itch and rash returns and again it is on a different area of their bodies. It’s on the woman’s neck this time. This time they are more concerned as they haven’t been around the farm. They go to the doctor and skin samples are taken. The doctor confirms migrating nodules. Nodules can be caused by a parasite worm.
They are not sure what type of worm it is and how they caught it? Skin sample is sent for testing at lab for analysis.
Three weeks later the results are back. It is positive for Gnathostomiasis. A parasitic roundworm. It burrows through skin and can tear through nearly any body tissue. It is a very aggressive parasite. If it reaches the brain it can cause paralysis and death. Humans are not usually definitive host.
They think the parasite has been in her body for 3 years! This parasite burrows around the body and can come to the surface periodically. That’s why rashes appeared on different parts of her body over the 3 year period and would then just simply disappear.
She and her husband had eaten raw fish. They had been on a trip to Africa and the husband had caught cat fish which they did not cook and had made into sushi.
Albendazole was the drug of choice for treatment.
Three weeks after treatment the woman feels an itch and the rash reappears. She calls her doctor immediately and he pays her a visit. On this visit he actually removes the worm from her neck. It is tiny, and hair/thread-like in appearance. It was finally out and it appeared dead from the treatment. The worm may have been dying at the time as it was making its way to the surface of the skin.
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