Tapeworm burrows into woman's brain

Tapeworm burrows into woman's brain
Published: 2013 May 09 02:58:48 (5144 Views)
A voluntary worker has told how she almost died after tapeworms burrowed into her brain.

Sherry Fuller has taken two years to recover after an infestation she picked up in Madagascar left her with larvae the size of a 5p coin inside her head.

The 39-year-old had headaches and seizures, her right eye turned black and her body swelled up when she reacted badly to her medication.

If the larvae had gone untreated they could have turned to fatal cysts.

She said: 'I was so unwell. My brain was not working and I was traumatised by the whole ordeal. It was a long time before I could sleep because I was worried I would not wake up again.'

Ms Fuller's ordeal began two years ago when she volunteered to work on a sanitation project in Madagascar.

She began to suffer headaches after she returned to England but, at first, doctors suspected TB, HIV and even linked it to asbestos.

It was three weeks before a consultant neurosurgeon diagnosed neurocysticercosis, a rare condition caused by pork tapeworm infestation.

'When I got home, I started having headaches but did not really realise anything was wrong with me,' said Ms Fuller, an information officer at Southend Council.

'Then I started to have seizures. They were passed off as panic attacks.

'I was having four or five seizures a day. I went to my doctor who looked into my right eye. Part of it was black because of the swelling.'

Doctors gave her a worming tablet which killed the larvae but her arms, legs and back swelled up.

She was given steroids to deal with the side effects and anti-epilepsy drugs. Ms Fuller, from Westcliff, Essex, also became hypersensitive to noise, unable to bear even the sounds of birds in her garden or office chatter.

Dr Colin Sutherland, a reader in parasitology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: 'We see these worm infections a few times a year but brain infections are rare and extremely dangerous.'

Tapeworm infections are usually contracted through contaminated food or water and affect up to 200million people in the developing world.



- Metro
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