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Forget Xenomorphs — a real monster was lurking in someone’s brain for 15 years

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Nov 7, 2019

If you thought getting infected with a chestburster was the worst it could get, you weren’t (literally) in the head of a Chinese man who had a tapeworm eating his brain since 2007.

You might not want to eat anything for a while after this. Just saying.

It’s about as alien as you can get on Earth. Lei Wang of Guangzhou, China, had no idea he’d accidentally swallowed a nightmare when he was indulging in fried snails back in 2004. He continued to have severe neurological symptoms until doctors discovered that a tapeworm was feeding off his brain in 2018. Though alternative medicine has been suggested, Lei finally decided to have the tapeworm removed surgically — and it was gnarly.

When Wang first started to feel numbness down his left side, it baffled doctors. The symptoms (and unexplained decline of his health) only continued playing out like body horror from there. Desperately in search of an explanation, he saw multiple specialists only to be diagnosed with and treated for a brain tumor. Things only got more bizarre when he frequently experienced seizures and blackouts after he was supposedly cured. Something else was invading his brain.

What Wang’s surgeon, Youming Gu, ended up evicting from the patient’s body instead was a nearly 5-inch tapeworm that had been feasting on his gray matter for the past 15 years. The worm wouldn’t stop moving throughout the surgery. As if that didn’t make such a freaky procedure risky enough, every last part of the thing had to be removed. Tapeworms regenerate if even a small part is left behind in the host’s body. If left in Wang’s brain long enough, the creature would have eaten enough to kill him.

“The migration in subcutaneous tissues is usually painless, but when spargana settle in the brain or spine a variety of neurological symptoms may occur, including weakness, headache, seizure, and abnormal skin sensations, such as numbness or tingling,” the CDC says of Spirometra, the species of tapeworm that had tortured Wang for what must have seemed like an eternity.

By the way, Spirometra can live for up to 20 years. 

Human brains aren’t a usual hideout for tapeworms. These parasites usually seek out a permanent residence in the guts of animals, including fish, shellfish, frogs, snails, snakes, and even cats and dogs.

This is just more proof that not all monsters exist in the form of cinematic special effects.

(via Global Times)

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