A 48-year-old man in India had a 6-foot-long pork tapeworm removed from his body.
Details of the case were published in medical journal New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 25, reports the Daily Mail.
The man had been complaining of stomach pain for two months. When he consulted a doctor, a colonoscopy was performed, which revealed a segment of a tapeworm in his colon, according to Dr. Cyriac Phillips, reports Live Science.
Next, an endoscope was used to examine the upper part of the man’s digestive system, and there doctors discovered more of the tapeworm in his gut.
Surgeons, led by Phillips, pulled the worm out through the patient’s mouth, revealing the size of the parasite. Phillips declared it to be the largest tapeworm he had ever seen.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “tapeworm infection is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae.”
The medical center gives a fuller description of the process:
If you ingest certain tapeworm eggs, they can migrate outside your intestines and form larval cysts in body tissues and organs (invasive infection). If you ingest tapeworm larvae, however, they develop into adult tapeworms in your intestines (intestinal infection). An adult tapeworm consists of a head, neck and chain of segments called proglottids. When you have an intestinal tapeworm infection, the tapeworm head adheres to the intestinal wall, and the proglottids grow and produce eggs. Adult tapeworms can live for up to 30 years in a host. Intestinal tapeworm infections are usually mild, but invasive larval infections can cause serious complications.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine adds that tapeworms usually do not cause symptoms, so people who have a tapeworm infection are often unaware of it.
As for the patient in this case, he was given antiparasitic drugs following his procedure, and reportedly has not experienced any symptoms since.
Sources: Daily Mail, Live Science, Mayo Clinic / Photo credit: New England Journal of Medicine via Daily Mail