A Chinese man was hospitalized after foaming at the mouth and falling in and out of consciousness; what doctors found next might simply be blamed on undercooked pork.
Doctors in Zhejiang, China, using an MRI found Zhu Zhong-fa, 43, was the unwitting hosts of hundreds of parasitic worms. According to Yahoo News, the man’s condition is known as neurocysticercosis – a condition that sees parasitic larvae in undercooked food hatch and grow into worms.
Doctors found more than 700 worms squirming around inside Zhong-fa’s brain and in his chest.
“It’s also in the lungs and fills up the muscles inside the chest cavity,” Dr Wang Jian-rong said of Zhong-fa’s case.
Zhong-fa, who lives in the Zhejiang province city of Hangzhou, was brought to the First Affiliated Hospital of College of Medicine at Zhejiang University about a month after he said his symptoms first began.
Doctors initially reported difficulty determining the cause of Zhong-fa’s troubling condition. The man later admitted he ate from a hotpot about a month prior and expressed doubts about the integrity of the pot of food.
Doctors reportedly noted “space-occupying lesions” in the patient’s brain. A medic for Zhong-fa also noted signs of organ damage.
“We tend to have a lot of meat-based meals in our daily lives,” Dr. Wang reportedly warned.
The parasitic larvae reportedly can overwhelm a body’s central nervous system and trigger seizures, which might explain why Zhong-fa was foaming at the mouth and struggling with consciousness.
Some sufferers see no symptoms, while others can experience seizures and other symptoms such as headaches, loss of balance and swelling of the brain.
Neurocysticercosis is often the result of eating undercooked pork. People may also ingest the worm larvae, passed through the feces another person suffering from an intestinal tapeworm if don’t properly wash their hands after visiting the restroom.
The larvae can contaminate water and produce and stick to survive on various surfaces. Once the larvae hatches, it can breach a person’s intestinal wall and spread to other parts of their body.
According to a report by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC), neurocysticercosis is a prevailing cause of epilepsy in adults, though it is “entirely preventable.”
The U.S. sees around 1,000 hospitalizations for neurocysticercosis annually. Those cases often reportedly coincide with travel through regions where the neurocysticercosis is more common, such as Latin America.
The condition has been known to be fatal in some rare instances.
Doctors reportedly treated Zhong-fa with drugs meant to kill the parasitic worms and protect his organs from additional damage. Doctors are also awaiting test results to determine additional courses of treatment for Zhong-fa.