Researchers at the Australian National University and Canberra Hospital have identified the first case of a new parasitic infection in a human.
The infection involved a live roundworm from a carpet python found in the brain of a 64-year-old Australian woman.
The roundworm, known as Ophidascaris robertsi, commonly resides in the stomach of carpet pythons and releases eggs in their feces.
The woman had collected native plants from a lake inhabited by carpet pythons and likely contracted the parasite through touching the plants or consuming their eggs.
According to Sanjaya Senanayake, author of the study:
“This is the first-ever human case of Ophidascaris to be described in the world”.“To our knowledge, this is also the first case to involve the brain of any mammalian species, human or otherwise.”
The case highlights the risks of zoonotic diseases that transfer from animals to humans.
The woman experienced abdominal pain, diarrhea, cough, and night sweats before the parasite was discovered in her brain and removed.
Although this type of infection cannot spread between humans, it underscores the importance of food safety and hygiene when interacting with wildlife.
The researchers believe similar cases might emerge in other countries due to the widespread presence of the parasite.
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