After experiencing a number of unusual symptoms, a 35-year-old woman from France was admitted to the emergency department in Dijon.
The woman, who is not named in the New England Journal of Medicine, was experiencing tingling in her legs and weakness, as well as frequently falling over.
The journal published that she had “impaired sensation in both legs and weak foot flexion.”
Doctors were initially puzzled by the cause. They asked the woman whether she had travelled abroad recently, and discovered she had never left the country.
But medics began to suspect what the woman was suffering from, when they learned how much she loved animals.
According to the journal, the woman was an avid horse rider, had a pet cat and regularly interacted with cattle.
An X-ray of her spine found a baffling lesion on her ninth vertebra, located right in the middle of her spine.
— KARE 11 (@kare11) July 13, 2018
Upon further examination, it was discovered the lesion was in fact tapeworm larvae living around her vertebrae. Also known as Echinococcus granulosus, the wiggling tapeworm is usually found inside dogs or livestock.
In some cases, Echinococcus granulosus can go unnoticed in humans for years. The particular type of tapeworm can cause echinococcosis, a disease which can stimulate the growth of cysts on the lungs, liver, bones or central nervous system.
The woman underwent surgery, and the tapeworm was extracted. She was also put on anti-parasitic medication.
Symptoms of tapeworm most often include abdominal pain, nausea, weakness, diarrhoea, fatigue, vomiting and unexplained weight loss.