Monsters Inside Me - Pork Tapeworms, Toxoplasma Gondi, Malaria - Post 6
Another write-up, as I understood the programme, after watching the new series Monsters Inside Me aired by Discovery/Animal Planet.
She starts having severe headaches. The headaches don’t feel like regular headaches. She has an MRI scan. There is swelling in her brain. There are 10-15 parasites around her brain. Pork tapeworms! A very nasty parasite indeed. Cysts form in the brain and when this happens it is extremely dangerous. Coma, seizures and even death can occur.
It can be contracted through contaminated or undercooked pork which contain cysts. They hatch in the intestines and grow. If you eat infected port they usually end up in the gut but if you eat eggs passed in faeces the condition can be more serious. The cysts can end up in tissue.
The MRI scan is examined further. There is an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the girl’s brain – a condition known as hydrocephalus. There is a build-up of cerebral spinal fluid. It appears the cysts are restricting the flow of the spinal fluid. This is very, very dangerous.
She is treated with powerful anti-parasitics. She improves but her headaches are not gone.
Three years go by when suddenly the severe headaches return. She goes back to the hospital where another MRI is performed. One parasite cyst appears to have survived her previous treatment. Again, the parasite is restricting the spinal fluid flow.
The doctors suggest brain surgery in order to remove the cyst. It is complicated because the cyst has latched on to a part of the brain where surgery may not be possible. The doctors decide in order to save her life they have to re-route the spinal fluid in order to relieve the pressure in her brain. The surgery does not remove nor kill the parasite, it re-routes the spinal fluid in order to save her life. The surgery is a success. But the cyst is still in her brain. She has to live with this parasite but her life is no longer in danger. Living with the parasite can be managed.
12 year old boy – lives on a farm
He begins to experience blurry vision. He goes for an eye exam. It appears 75% of his vision in his right eye has gone! The optician refers him to a specialist where he undergoes further tests. He is diagnosed with Toxoplasma Gondi. It is a protozoan parasite. It can attack the retina and lead to blindness. When your white blood cells attack the parasite, it causes inflammation.
It appears there is nothing doctors can do to save the sight in his right eye.
Once this parasite enters your body it is near impossible to kill. Once you contract this you have it for life! Medications and a strong immune system can keep the parasite under control but it won’t kill it.
Humans can become infected by accidentally eating contaminated dirt. Was the fact that the boy lived on a farm the source as to where he contracted this parasite?
13 years pass by and he is now a young man. He now begins to experience problems with his left eye. He goes to see the eye doctor. He doesn’t appear to see at all well from his good eye. He has a routine eye exam and a medical check and also some blood work done. The Toxoplasmosis parasite is now affecting his left eye. Again he is told there is no cure for it. It is believed that 13 years after the first diagnosis that he could be about to lose the sight in his left eye.
He sees another doctor who notices his symptoms appear similar to macular degeneration. Injections can help with this condition and the doctor considers this option. In order to save his sight in his left eye the man requires to have an injection IN his eye! It is terribly painful. They can only wait and see if the treatment works. Will his sight in his left eye be saved? He has three injections in total. His sight in his left eye improves and he begins to see a significant improvement. But the man will spend the rest of his life knowing the parasite is still lurking inside.
Cats can be carriers of this parasite. When the immune system is low or compromised that’s when problems can occur.
25 year old female
She wakes up in a cold sweat. She is feverish, has headache and chills. She is very lethargic.
She questions flu. Her temperature is 102. She goes to the local hospital where her vital signs are checked, temperature taken and blood tested.
Food poisoning is questioned? The woman isn’t convinced it’s food poisoning. She has had food poisoning before and this doesn’t feel the same.
Next day, when she returns to work she feels relatively ok but later begins to feel feverish and the symptoms return. Doctors still think it could be flu. She is given meds.
She begins to notice a pattern. One day she feels fine, the next she feels really bad whereby the symptoms return. She knows something is seriously wrong. She actually begins to fear for her life. Something just isn’t right.
She goes to hospital where a nurse takes her temperature. It appears normal. She is told she can be discharged but the woman refuses to leave. One hour later the very same nurse takes her temperature again and to her surprise the woman’s temperature has rocketed! It is sky-high at 104, after being normal just one hour previous. The nurse has never seen a temperature rise this quick.
The woman is referred to an Infectious Disease doctor. She explains the pattern to her symptoms, one day she feels ok, the next day really ill, like every 48 hour or so symptoms return. The doctor asks if she has been out of the country.
Nine months previous she had honeymooned in Africa. (There is an incubation period with certain parasites whereby it can take time for symptoms to show.)
Her red blood cells are being broken up. What is causing this? She is finally diagnosed with suffering from Malaria! It is a plasmodium parasite. It is one of the most successful parasites on the planet! And most dangerous! Mosquitos transmit the disease. It enters through the bloodstream and heads for the liver. This parasite can ravage red blood cells.
The cycle of destruction occurs every 48 hours which matched what she was experiencing. It begins to click into place why she was experiencing what she was feeling and how there appeared to be a pattern to her symptoms.
She did take medications on her honeymoon but the meds she took were to treat the BLOOD form and NOT the LIVER form of the parasite.
Antiparasitics are prescribed. The medications begin to work and she begins to feel improvement. The first round of medications she is prescribed is to treat the BLOOD form of the disease. Later she requires to have more meds to treat the LIVER form.
But she isn’t out of the danger. After taking the medication her spleen appears swollen. It is being overworked. Doctors are concerned her spleen could burst. If this happens it can be fatal. Her spleen tears and her life is hanging in the balance. She is losing a lot of blood. For seven days she battles for her life. She requires a series of blood transfusions. She slowly begins to show signs of recovery. Over the next seven days she slowly improves.
Even though she is symptom free, they are not sure if all the parasites are gone from her system. Only time will tell…..
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