A SHOCKING image shows a patient who believed he had a cough, was in fact riddled with tapeworms.
The disturbing X-ray, shared by a doctor on Twitter, revealed hundreds of what appear to be bright blobs, each representing the calcified remains of a parasite.
The condition, named cysticercosis, occurs when larvae of a species of tapeworm – which normally lives in the intestines – enters tissues like the muscle or brain.
Humans become infected by accidentally ingesting contaminated food, normally meat.
The larvae form hard bumps like cysts that can be felt through the skin.
The condition is usually harmless, as the worms quickly die off.
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However, the cysts – left behind by the dead worms – can cause health issues.
Coughing and chest pain can occur when cysts attach to your lungs.
And if they have developed in the brain or spinal cord, the cyst can lead to a condition called neurocysticerosis.
Neurocysticerosis is the most serious form of tapeworm infection, and is a common cause of epilepsy and seizures across the world.
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According to MailOnline, Dr Vitor Borin de Souza, from Hospital das Clínicas in Botucatu, in Brazil, who shared the image, the patient was awaiting an MRI scan to check for the location of any cysts in their brain.
Surgery is usually required to remove the cysts in these cases.
Cysts can also reach the eyes where they can cause blurry or disturbed vision, and potentially cause infection.
What are the symptoms of tapeworm infection in humans?
Intestinal tapeworms usually cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms, if any. They may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Stomach cramps
Cystic larval infections often cause no symptoms.
They may be visible as lumps under your skin, or they may make themselves known by causing complications to your internal organs. This usually takes years.
The cysts themselves may only develop months or years after the initial infection with the tapeworm eggs.
Another horrific case
Last month, it was reported that an unnamed teenager had died after tapeworm cysts had buried in his brain and left him unconscious.
The 18-year-old was suffering from violent seizures and had also been complaining of a pain in his groin over the previous week before going to doctors.
Doctors at the ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Faridabad, India, sent him for scans and found parasitic cysts buried in the outer layer of his brain.
In this case, doctors said due to the number of tapeworm cysts, anti-parasitic medications typically used weren't an option.
With severe cases like this, the drugs can make inflammation in the brain worse, making the condition more deadly.
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Instead, medics gave the man steroids and anti-epileptic drugs but he sadly died two weeks later.
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