(SKY NEWS) – A Chinese man has had a 10cm tapeworm extracted from his brain – and surgeons say it was still swimming.
The man, identified only as Liu, had suffered a series of epileptic fits in recent months but his own doctor could not find any explanation.
The 26-year-old was taken to hospital in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi Province in southeastern China, where blood tests showed the presence of spirometra mansoni, a kind of tapeworm.
Dr Wang Chunliang, who led Mr Liu’s treatment, told the South China Morning Post: “The worm was still alive when we took it out.
“It was springy, white all over, and could swim.”
It is believed that the tapeworm found its way into Mr Liu’s brain from contaminated or undercooked food, most likely grilled food, which was his particular favourite.
Tapeworm infections are rare in the UK but relatively common in parts of the world such as China, especially where water supply is unhealthy and people are used to eating uncooked or half-cooked meat and seafood.
According to Medical News Today, tapeworms can live for up to 20 years and be up to 50ft long.
While there are often few symptoms, tapeworms can cause serious problems if they reach vital organs such as the liver.
In 2014, British scientists removed a rare tapeworm from a man’s brain after it had lived there for four years.