Monsters Inside Me - Episode 7
Monsters Inside Me
New Series, Episode 7
Another of my write-ups, as I understood it, after watching Monsters Inside Me aired by Discovery/Animal Planet.
53 year old male. Apart from bouts of asthma, his health is relatively good.
Symptoms - He is hit with a strange sensation. He could not get a breath of air. He is very fatigued. He goes home to rest. He puts it down to being over-worked and thinks nothing more of it.
A few weeks later, he is watching tv when he experiences the symptom again. It comes on very suddenly. He tries to take a breath in, and he cannot breath. He describes it literally like an elephant sitting on his chest and like having a pillow put over his face. He rushes to the nearest clinic. He is examined. They conclude he is suffering from an acute asthma attack. He is prescribed an inhaler. He has always been prescribed inhalers in the past because of his asthma.
A few weeks later he has another frightening episode. He has to stop walking every 20 feet or so in order to take a breath. He is with his family and they know something is very wrong. He drives to the urgent care clinic. He explains his symptoms. An x-ray of his lungs is taken. They are shocked. His lungs are completely full of fluid. Tuberculosis, pneumonia and even congestive heart failure are all conditions that are questioned. They know from the x-ray that something is very wrong and it has been going on for a very long time.
He is then put under the care of a Pulmonologist. The amount of fluid he had in his chest amounted to litres! Normal levels are around 7-10mm. An ultrasound is performed. Then the fluid is drained. Usually fluid is mild yellow colour but the fluid in this man’s chest was like chocolate milk. For the doctor, his opinion was that he thought the man had cancer.
Before the doctor could be certain it was cancer, the fluid was sent for analysis. The fluid is looked at under a microscope. The fluid is FULL of eggs. It is NOT cancer. There is a live, active parasite in his chest. The man was suffering from a severe case. Going by the size and shape of the eggs, it represented Paragonimus Westermani. It is a lung fluke, a Japanese lung fluke. It can be deadly.
It hides away inside intermediate host, like a crab. Ultimate target is the human. Once inside host, it burrows in lung tissue where it begins to lay eggs. The presence of the parasite in the human body triggers an immune response and causes severe coughing. The man is immediately prescribed a powerful anti-parasitic drug.
The doctors now question how he contracted the parasite. Has he been to Asia as this is where it is most prevalent? But the man hadn’t travelled to Asia. The doctors then review what the man had eaten. The man had visited a sushi restaurant where he had eaten some crabs and they were live! They now believe this is how he had contracted the parasite. The doctor goes through pictures of crabs and shows him an image of the exact crab he had eaten. It was found that the crabs he had eaten had been imported from Asia to the restaurant he had visited and this is where he contracted the parasite.
After weeks of treatment he is now parasite free and he returns to his normal life, apart from one thing. He vows NEVER to eat crab again.
1996 - Female
She is a keen cyclist. After a bike ride, she feels uncomfortable. She notices she has developed an angry red rash around her groin. A few days later, she notices that the colour in her legs is still there and it doesn’t look like a typical heat rash. She wonders if she is allergic to something. Laundry detergent or something she thought may have caused the rash. By the end of the week she goes to the clinic and the doctor offers a simple explanation. They think she is suffering from an allergic reaction to a poison oak plant. Itching, red rash and blisters are symptoms. They advise her to purchase a lotion and that will help clear up the rash. She doesn’t respond to the treatment. The rash has now spread to her upper thigh.
She had never had a skin problem before, ever. She shows the rash to a friend, a trained nurse. The nurse had never seen a rash like it and suggests she consult a dermatologist. A few days later she visits a doctor. Immediately, the doctor dismisses the poison oak theory the previous doctor had diagnosed.
The doctor removes a piece of the rash and has it analysed. The results come back and the doctor diagnosis a worm. The worm had a cuticle around it. The doctor needs to conduct another test on her urine. A few days later her urine results are back. They diagnose Schistosomiasis. The organism infests the blood around the bladder, it produces rapidly, laying eggs, which are extreted in urine. They can dislodge in the skin causing this angry rash. As they lay eggs in the bladder, the immune response grows causing inflammation.
It said the parasite can trigger a disease most feared by everyone – CANCER! An anti-worm medication is prescribed. The woman is sent for a scan. They are testing for cancer in her bladder.
The doctors try to figure out how she became infected. Intermediate host is a snail. Primary host is the human. They ask her where she has travelled to over the last few years. She had been to Lake Malawai in Africa. She had been swimming and this is where they believe she contracted the parasite. After 3 years inside the woman, that’s when the parasite made its presence known. It said it can live 5-8 years and can lay 10’s of thousands of eggs.
Her results are back and she is cancer free. She is relieved.
The antiparasite medication begins to work and the rash begins to disappear. She makes a full recovery. Six months after being diagnosed, she goes for another test to make sure the parasite has left her body. She tests negative.
2004 – Male
One evening he is sitting down having a meal with his wife. Twenty minutes after ingesting his meal, he doesn’t feel full, he is hungry again. He doesn’t think more of it. Over the next few days he notices his appetite becomes insatiable. He always feels hungry. Even after a full meal, he still feels hungry. His wife is very concerned.
One morning, he makes an unexpected discovery. He notices his belt is a little loose. In spite of his constant eating, he is losing weight.
A few weeks later he is hit with an unusual symptom – he is itchy on his left side, like needles inside. He now begins to get concerned that his diet is the cause. He decides to start a body cleanse. A form of dieting to rid the body of harmful toxins. He decided to cleanse for 3 months. He doesn’t eat meat, no milk products. He only eats veg, fruits nuts. This type of diet acts like a broom and gets rid of what shouldn’t be inside.
One month into the cleanse, he is sound asleep when, suddenly, he is awakened with a sudden pain. He also feels very gassy. He feels something very weird, something he has never felt before. When he gets half way to the bathroom, he feels a very disturbing sensation. Something is slapping against his thigh! He feels something hanging from his rectum! He pulls on it, reaches between his legs and pulls on what he feels is hanging between his legs. It was MOVING! He eventually turns on the light and he has pulled a worm from his behind. He said it looked like a normal worm and was very slimy.
He and his wife are in shock. They put the worm in a jar. They actually see it lifting its head and tail. It is very much alive. The worm is 9 inches in length! He begins to question how many more are inside him. He believes there are more.
They rush straight to the hospital WITH the worm. The worm is analysed. He describes what he has just experienced to a doctor. The worm is analysed. They consider tapeworm, but the worm he passed is not segmented. So tapeworm is ruled out. ASCARIS Lumbricoides is the culprit. It affects the human intestines. It is the largest intestinal worm that can infect a human. They can reach 16 inches in length. It steals nutrients from its host. The ascaris worm can cause fatal complications. They can cause blockages which can be deadly for the host. They are concerned that this worm has taken over the man’s digestive system. Usually if one worm is found, there are more.
He is prescribed antiparasitic meds.
It is estimated that this parasite affects a quarter of the world’s population. In the US it is rare, but one of the ways it can enter the country is as a stowaway. It is much more common in people who travel.
The doctors question where he has been. The man tells them he has been to Afghanistan on duty where he often shared food with the locals. They would sit on the ground all eating together.
This parasite can be picked up where there is poor sanitation.
He is able to return home where he continues to take the medication. He returns later where a stool sample is analysed. No more eggs or worms are found in his stool.
The man makes a full recovery.
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