A live parasite was removed from a California man’s brain during an emergency procedure, and he is already healing.
Luis Ortiz had just begun his senior year at Sacramento State when, in August, while visiting his mother in Napa, he experienced the worst headache of his life.
After his mother called 9-1-1, paramedics transported Luis to Queen of the Valley Medical Center. A brain scan revealed that he had a tapeworm in his brain, which required immediate surgery. Luis was then informed by the physician that he only had around 30 minutes left to live.
Equipment with a camera was used to detect the parasitic tapeworm larvae that had developed in a cyst obstructing circulation inside Luis’ brain during emergency brain surgery.
“That doesn’t sound so good, I thought. Ugh. I thought it didn’t sound good when the doctor stated it was still wriggling as he pulled it out. What are the chances, for instance, of having a parasite in my head?” Luis commented.
The parasite might have gotten into Luis’ body in a number of different ways, according to the doctors.
“They questioned as to whether I had lately had a raw pig, gone river swimming, or traveled to a third-world country, and I replied, “I haven’t done any of it.” Luis said, “But I’m not sure how long the worm has been in my skull.”
There are six main kinds of tapeworms that may infect people, each of which can be identified by the animal from which it originated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, consuming undercooked meat can result in gastrointestinal parasite infection. A brain infection may result from consuming food prepared by an infected person who then transmits the larvae through poor sanitation and hygiene. After being consumed, the larvae can travel to the brain.
The CDC estimates that the pig tapeworm causes 1,000 hospital admissions in the US each year.
Luis said he is eager to finish college and continue living his life.
“Since I wouldn’t be here right now if I had waited a little longer,” Luis said, “It’s surely more rewarding to me to be alive.”