A 35-year-old woman claimed to have felt an electric-shock in her legs which prompted her to go to the emergency room. After a few tests, the doctors discovered that the woman had a parasite in her spine.
Invasion Of The Parasite
The woman from France had been worried for about three months that something was wrong with her legs. She told the doctors that her legs felt weak, she kept falling and experiencing pangs of electric shock-like pains.
The doctors gave the woman a physical examination and confirmed impaired sensation in her legs and weak foot flexion. Blood tests showed that her white blood cell count had increased to 18,000, which is way above the average range between 4,000 and 10,000.
The doctors also performed an MRI scan which showed that the woman had a lump in the middle of her vertebrae. The doctors had no choice but to operate on her spine and remove the lesion. Doctors tested the lesion and discovered it was an infection of Echinococcus granulosus, a parasite usually found in animals such as dogs, sheep, pigs, and goats.
Parasites All Around The World
The woman claimed that she hadn't traveled anywhere recently but she did own a pet cat and had been in contact with cattle. After going again for a check-up nine months later, the doctors found that the woman was clear of the parasite. The woman is also taking anti-parasitic medication.
The case was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Echinococcus granulosus can grow between 2 and 7 mm. In rare cases, it can infect humans. Normally, this parasite doesn't cause symptoms but it can trigger cysts that grow very slowly in the central nervous system.
This could lead to a person having mild or severe anaphylactic shock. It takes some time for any symptoms to become noticeable. The World Health Organization states that the Echinococcus granulosus can only enter a person's body when the individual unknowingly swallows the parasite's eggs.
The parasite has been reported in several parts of the world, including Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Central and South America. The parasite is not as common in North America; however, there have been several cases reported in Arizona and New Mexico, were sheep are mainly bred.