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Tapeworms Living Inside People's Brains
May 16, 2012 10:04 AM   Subscribe

Tapeworms Living Inside People's Brains
posted by Foci for Analysis (140 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Should I pour the bleach directly into my eyes, or turn my head to the side and use a funnel into one ear?
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:06 AM on May 16, 2012 [59 favorites]


NOPE NOPE NOPE
(Yes, I read the article.)
NOPE NOPE NOPE
posted by charred husk at 10:07 AM on May 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


If that's not viscerally disturbing enough, I'll link again to The Worm Within, the most wonderful thing the Internet has produced.
posted by gurple at 10:08 AM on May 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


Should I pour the bleach directly into my eyes, or turn my head to the side and use a funnel into one ear?

I'm straight-up jamming a syringe full of it into my temple as I thyrpst ffessg
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:08 AM on May 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


WHY DID I CLICK
posted by en forme de poire at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


...And now I can feel them rattling around up there. Thank you everyone.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2012


Damn, Nature! You scary.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:09 AM on May 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Tapeworms don't do that.
Tapeworms don't do that.
Tapeworms don't do that.
Tapeworms don't do that.
Tapeworms don't do that.
posted by bondcliff at 10:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's amazing, the power the "OH HELL NO" reaction.
Doing more about the problem would make this horrible situation mostly go away, but we're too horrified to get up and do anything about it.
posted by charred husk at 10:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Goddamn it, I'm about to go to Central America.

How do I not get this?
posted by empath at 10:10 AM on May 16, 2012


I'd like to do something about it, but my tapeworm has its own ideas.
posted by found missing at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


[sigh] My DH and I frequently refer to odd behavior as being caused by "the brain worms". It started out as a joke when the cats are crazy, but it moved into any weird behavior, animal or people. Now that its a real thing, I think I'm just going to crawl under my blankets and hope I don't actually have the brain worms.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


The ribbon for the awareness campaign should be pale white and threaded through a human brain.
posted by charred husk at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2012 [37 favorites]


Well. Now I feel really itchy.
posted by Mayor West at 10:11 AM on May 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm kinda regretting eating pork chops yesterday now
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bad news: It was a pregnant female.
posted by DU at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


My tapeworm has *terrible* taste in music.
posted by Mamapotomus at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


If being vegan in some small way protects me from this than giving up bacon has finally proven itself a worthwhile endeavour.
posted by Shepherd at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Woah.
posted by Forktine at 10:13 AM on May 16, 2012


. Nothing to do here.
posted by cashman at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2012


Kashrut doesn't seem so irrational now, does it?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


DO NOT WANT
posted by elizardbits at 10:15 AM on May 16, 2012


If being vegan in some small way protects me from this than giving up bacon has finally proven itself a worthwhile endeavour.

Nope! You get regular tapeworms from eating pork. You get horrible brain tapeworms from eating food contaminated with pig feces. Good thing we have all sorts of regulations governing what CAFOs have to do with all the pig waste runoff that they generate.

If you need me, I'll be out curled up in my cave, subsisting off of whatever fungi decide to grow in the constant darkness.
posted by Mayor West at 10:16 AM on May 16, 2012 [16 favorites]


Yeah...still too early in the morning to willingly click a link in a post titled, "Tapeworms Living Inside People's Brains." Nope, not gonna do it.
posted by mosk at 10:17 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


My cats just got shots for tapeworms (they had visible proglottids and everything) a couple of days ago. I'm very glad that dipylidium canium does not this...brain-dwelling...thing.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:18 AM on May 16, 2012


Now I no longer need lunch. Thanks, brainworms!
posted by the painkiller at 10:18 AM on May 16, 2012


Look, on some level, of course I know that this world is not made for us, nature red in tooth and claw, etc., but I don't like being reminded.

For me, it seems to be the idea of a creature (ie, multi-cellular, moving about, eating me) living inside of me that freaks me out. If it was just some bacterial or viral infection, I wouldn't take it personally, as it were.
posted by jcreigh at 10:19 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I finally understand how arachnophobes feel when they see spiders.
posted by Blue Meanie at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've got some crazy thoughts knockin' round my brain.

No wait, they're tapeworms.
posted by mazola at 10:20 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've come to associate single-linked-phrase FPPs with Tumblr links, and man, you do not want to know where my mind just went.
posted by kagredon at 10:21 AM on May 16, 2012


I am quite literally incapable of clicking on that. I might be able to read a description if anyone would be so kind?
posted by cilantro at 10:21 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nope! You get regular tapeworms from eating pork. You get horrible brain tapeworms from eating food contaminated with pig feces. Good thing we have all sorts of regulations governing what CAFOs have to do with all the pig waste runoff that they generate.

Actually if you read the article it says that the tapeworm eggs get in your brain from stuff contaminated with human feces. Normal way is that pigs eat human feces with tapeworm eggs in them, pigs develop muscle cysts, people eat pig muscles, people develop stomach tapeworms from the pig cysts, stomach tapeworms produce eggs in human feces. The circle of tapeworm life as it should be with no brain problems. When the tapeworm egg-filled human feces gets consumed by another human, that's when the human brain cyst shenanigans happen. So its more of a human waste problem than a pig waste problem apparently, which is why it would be a much bigger deal is less developed countries.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2012 [12 favorites]


I might be able to read a description if anyone would be so kind?

HORRIBLE BRAIN WORMS THAT CAN KILL YOU
posted by elizardbits at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Funnily enough, the first time I heard that tapeworms can live inside humans outside of the intestines was from the television show House.

As if I didn't need another reason to travel to third-world countries.

Yes, I know tapeworms don't respect borders. Leave me with me safe-at-home fantasy, OK?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:22 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am quite literally incapable of clicking on that. I might be able to read a description if anyone would be so kind?

Tapeworms aren't limited to living in your intestines. They can go anywhere. Now, use your imagination. Or better yet, don't.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:23 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah, little friends that are always with you, how nice...
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:24 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


First reaction: Oh thank God it's not a Tumblr.

Second reaction: Holy shit that was my first reaction, my life is a waste.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:25 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


I hope whoever asked this question doesn't see this FPP.
posted by TedW at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2012


Apologies for the nightmare fuel. Added NSFL tag.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2012


NOPE
posted by Behemoth at 10:27 AM on May 16, 2012 [17 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell:
Yes, I know tapeworms don't respect borders. Leave me with me safe-at-home fantasy, OK?"

Damn foreign tapeworms invading our country, taking our American tapeworm's jobs!!
posted by narcoleptic at 10:28 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Caterpillar.

It's an earwig, not a tapeworm. And it's fiction, not fact. It still freaked me the fuck out when I was seven years old.
posted by bukvich at 10:29 AM on May 16, 2012


Needs a Goa'uld tag.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:32 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pink Floyd sang of this.
posted by punkfloyd at 10:33 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


but do they suffer from allergies??
posted by srboisvert at 10:34 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yea, I'm ranking this up with the bot fly stuff I saw on YouTube or the cow abscessed utters people lance and pour the goo out.

So I'm going to sit this one out as I eat my lunch.

YouTube should only be reserved for cute puppies.
posted by stormpooper at 10:34 AM on May 16, 2012


My tapeworm has *terrible* taste in music.

Your tapeworm's favorite band sucks.
posted by The Bellman at 10:36 AM on May 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


Quick! Someone post some cute kittens or something!!!! Please!!!!!!
posted by Thorzdad at 10:38 AM on May 16, 2012


I'm so glad that as soon as I was finished having my day ruined by that, I was able to recover (ever so slightly, but every bit counts) by DOGS. MAN'S BEST FRIEND EMPATHIZES THROUGH CONTAGIOUS YAWNS.
posted by subversiveasset at 10:38 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now head into the most recent handwashing thread for all the comments expressing pride at not washing their hands after using the restroom.
posted by cashman at 10:39 AM on May 16, 2012


Doing more about the problem would make this horrible situation mostly go away, but we're too horrified to get up and do anything about it.

What, exactly, would you suggest?
posted by Gator at 10:40 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tapeworms are good for:
a) plot devices,
b) diet pills for divas, and,
c) fuck all else.

Mostly c).
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:45 AM on May 16, 2012


Normal way is that pigs eat human feces with tapeworm eggs in them, pigs develop muscle cysts, people eat pig muscles, people develop stomach tapeworms from the pig cysts, stomach tapeworms produce eggs in human feces. The circle of tapeworm life as it should be with no brain problems.

Obligatory
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:45 AM on May 16, 2012


In related news, The Brain Slug Party has taken a sudden leap in the polls.
posted by schmod at 10:46 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


A blob in the brain is not the image most people have when someone mentions tapeworms. ... Before they become adults, tapeworms spend time as larvae in large cysts. And those cysts can end up in people’s brains.
Guys, guys, it's OK. It's not tapeworms living in your brain, it's adorable tapeworm babies.

On a more serious note, does the typical tapeworm lifecycle really depend on spending the larval stage inside pigs and the worm stage inside people? So it's a parasite that only formed after the domestication of pigs, very recently?
posted by Nelson at 10:50 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


BARRRRRRFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF
posted by fusinski at 10:52 AM on May 16, 2012


Will my brain worm cysts protect me against the toxoplasmosis schizophrenia from my cat?
posted by nicebookrack at 10:54 AM on May 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


Tapeworms: officially worse than spiders
posted by dhruva at 10:55 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I worry that every headache is a blood clot, but now I can relax because maybe it's just a friendly tapeworm. Lying on a clot.
posted by discopolo at 10:56 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Tapeworms are good for:
a) plot devices,
b) diet pills for divas, and,
c) fuck all else.


There are helpful little helminths which can be quite useful for those with serious autoimmune problems... but yeah, nobody wants tapeworms. They're basically just dicks.
posted by vorfeed at 10:56 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


On a more serious note, does the typical tapeworm lifecycle really depend on spending the larval stage inside pigs and the worm stage inside people? So it's a parasite that only formed after the domestication of pigs, very recently?

There's no reason the cycle wouldn't work with wild pigs, or with predators other than humans.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:57 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the nightmare fuel!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:57 AM on May 16, 2012


They've killed twenty of my people, including my beloved wife. Oh, not all at once, and not instantly, to be sure. You see, their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. this has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion. Later, as they grow, follows madness - and death.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:59 AM on May 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


But it was only fantasy
The wall was too high, as you can see
No matter how he tried he could not break free
And the worms ate into his brain.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:59 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're basically just dicks.

Dickworms.

Dickworms.

Dickworms.
posted by Gator at 11:04 AM on May 16, 2012


In one study in Peru, researchers found 37 percent of people showed signs of having been infected at some point.

whelp that is really horrifying from a public health perspective and also do we think bleach is going to detract from the single origin cocoa in this cookie batter because everything needs to be bleached now
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Have no fear, people! The menace can be defeated by valiantly soaking one's brain with alcohol!
posted by Theta States at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Okay, tjis explains one thing, but why do the tapeworms keep telling me to strangle babies?
posted by cmoj at 11:08 AM on May 16, 2012


And already, my first opportunity to re-use the line I said I was going to steal on Reddit this morning.

"swirling vortex of pure nope"
posted by Naberius at 11:09 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also I actually read all of the article because I mercifully read this after lunch and look there's hope!

“Thirty or 40 years ago, these patients just died. Surgeons would go in and see this mess and couldn’t do much,” Nash says. Fortunately, the situation is improving. Even his comatose patient woke up and, after a few years of off-and-on treatment, completely recovered. “Now the guy is doing quite well.”

Also here is a baby sloth having a bath. Just in case you need it.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


Check out the head of T. solium. Fascinating little bugger has four suckers and a ring of 26 hooklets.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is this making me itchy?? Stories about bed bugs make me itchy. Shouldn't this be giving me searing pains in my head or psychosomatic paralysis?
posted by looli at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2012


Rhomboid: "Check out the head of T. solium. Fascinating little bugger has four suckers and a ring of 26 hooklets"

Flagged for NOPE.
posted by charred husk at 11:14 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even zombies are all "OH HELL NO."
posted by argonauta at 11:15 AM on May 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hmm.. Maybe it is time to get serious about not eating imported fruits and veges . . .
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:17 AM on May 16, 2012


Ugh, remember that video of someone pouring Coke on a raw pork chop and getting little white worms to slither out? THE INTERNET WARNED US YEARS AGO!
posted by orme at 11:18 AM on May 16, 2012


I am quite literally incapable of clicking on that

Are you actually incapable, or is that the tapeworm speaking for you as self-preservation?

MIND = BLOWN EATEN
posted by zombieflanders at 11:19 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Doctor who specializes in something claims that the thing he specializes in is more wide spread than anyone knows. Shocking.

As creepy as cerebral tapeworms are, at least they're potentially curable. I'll take them over a glioblastoma any day.
posted by brevator at 11:20 AM on May 16, 2012


Capt. Renault: Tapeworms are good for:
a) plot devices,
b) diet pills for divas, and,
c) fuck all else.


Please see also d) cutely quoting Mark Twain.

"“Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."” (Twain).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:20 AM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


I got gummy tapeworms on the brain
I got gummy tapeworms on the brain
I forgot to wrap the gummy tapeworm eggs in bacon
And it's driving me insane
posted by O'Bama at 11:22 AM on May 16, 2012


"“Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."” (Twain).

And the Dude.
posted by brevator at 11:23 AM on May 16, 2012


Saw this, said "Nope," clicked it and saw the picture, said "Nope," read the whole thing, saying "Nope" the whole time.

It's me, I'm the guy with the tapeworm in his brain.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:25 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the question is: how long can the eggs survive outside of a host? Because the horrifying part of this is that you can get it simply because someone who's infected didn't wash their hands well enough. We're trained to wash our fruits and vegetables but conceivably these could be on a box of crackers or a jug of milk or something.
posted by curious nu at 11:25 AM on May 16, 2012


I spent maybe too much time trying to figure out how could the Goa-uld have evolved. It seemed like a chicken/egg dilemma. I always found their existence far-fetched. But no longer!
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:26 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I weaponized my toxoplasmasmosis gondii a while back, so those cat-loving little buggers have got my back. Makes finding the smell of tomcat piss nice worthwhile.
posted by Jilder at 11:27 AM on May 16, 2012


Thorzdad: "Quick! Someone post some cute kittens or something!!!! Please!!!!!!"

Here you go.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2012


So when the worms crawl out, do they play pinochle on your snout?
posted by TedW at 11:29 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thankfully, my legions of pinworms are loyal and true, ready to march out of their anal strongholds and destroy the interlopers!!!

I'll see myself out...
posted by Jehan at 11:30 AM on May 16, 2012


I guess there isn't much money to be made in preventing this stuff...

None of this is rocket science—which makes Nash all the more frustrated that so little is being done. “I see this as a disease that can be treated and prevented,” he says. But there are precious few resources available for treatment and little recognition of the problem. “All of this seems to be very feasible, but nobody wants to do anything about it.”

Either that, or it's the tapeworm larvae in our brains gently steering us away from inconvenient topics.

(Have I said too much already?)
posted by RedOrGreen at 11:33 AM on May 16, 2012


Her name is Jasmine.
posted by rikschell at 11:33 AM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


gurple, I don't know whether to thank you or send a hit man after you.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:41 AM on May 16, 2012


I'm adding "piece of spaghetti to dangle out of one nostril" next to "testicular essence" on my list of things to bring to the next mefi meetup.
posted by dr_dank at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2012


Outragefilter.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:42 AM on May 16, 2012


Welp

I'm done with cauliflower
posted by jason_steakums at 11:44 AM on May 16, 2012


Darn it. I just discovered the most delightful recipe for a shit sandwich.
posted by digsrus at 11:45 AM on May 16, 2012


Thank you thank you thank jetlagaddict. I really needed some baby sloths.
posted by Cocodrillo at 11:46 AM on May 16, 2012


holy fucking nightmare fuel.

On some days, I'm glad to be vegetarian.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:46 AM on May 16, 2012


holy fucking nightmare fuel.

On some days, I'm glad to be vegetarian.


Again: you don't get this from eating meat. You get this from eating the eggs, which (for most people will) come from contaminated human feces.

Unless you're just glad to avoid the adult tapeworms, and then, sure.

Not gonna help you avoid tapeworm babies in your brain though.
posted by curious nu at 11:49 AM on May 16, 2012


As mentioned above, these don't come from eating meat. They come from eating food (including innocent, unsuspecting vegetables) tainted with pig poops.
posted by elizardbits at 11:50 AM on May 16, 2012


The solution is to kill all pigs and then torch their poo.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:53 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


"If a tapeworm cyst doesn’t cause big troubles, it may go unnoticed for its entire life. Eventually a tapeworm cyst that can’t move on to its adult stage will die; this signals the host’s immune system, eliciting a powerful attack and bringing its covert deception to an end."

Great. The only things worse than tapeworms in your brain are long-suffering, annoying, emo kid adolescent tapeworms that have died in your brain just to provoke your immune system.
posted by peagood at 11:58 AM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not pig poops, people. Read the article again (or burnmp3s's comment). It is from human poo.
posted by rikschell at 12:00 PM on May 16, 2012


I highly recommend Parasite Rex by Zimmer. I also read Microcosm and really liked it. Just go to his blog The Loom. Totally worth it.

One of the most eye opening parts of the Parasite book is how parasites can make up to half the biomass of an ecosystem, but it was not until very recently that biologists started giving them the attention they deserve.

Parasites / host relationships drive more of evolution than you can imagine right now. Unless you are a parasitologist.

Go buy the book right now. Familiarity breeds contempt, after that book I went from irrationally terrified to rationally concerned.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 12:00 PM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


The solution is to kill all pigs and then torch their poo.

Then how will we sustain our supply of delicious bacon?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:04 PM on May 16, 2012


Let's just agree that eating things tainted with any poops at all is suboptimal.
posted by elizardbits at 12:09 PM on May 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


These things are spread by human feces! Oh no! Now how can we enjoy the delectable taste of a Japanese feces burger?
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:14 PM on May 16, 2012


Goddamn it, I'm about to go to Central America.

How do I not get this?
posted by empath


Get tested for tapeworm antibodies before you go-- you'll probably be negative-- then when you come back.

If still negative, relax; if positive, see a specialist in tropical diseases and the treatment will probably be routine.
posted by jamjam at 12:26 PM on May 16, 2012


I just can't. Nope, can not click link. No no no no no ew ew ew aiyeeeeeeee!
posted by Lynsey at 12:31 PM on May 16, 2012


Now head into the most recent handwashing thread for all the comments expressing pride at not washing their hands after using the restroom.

Well, unless those people are instead letting pigs lick their hands clean, that is not the source of this problem.
posted by emjaybee at 12:33 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Though I didn't get brain tapeworms, when I was in the Ivory Coast, I had three botflies - basically, larvae that burrow into your body and live off of you until they're old enough to emerge fully fledged as gross horrible hairy giant larvae that turn into flies. I got stung a few times by what I thought were wasps one day in the forest, and then, a few days later, where I was stung, I had what looked kind of like pimples where I'd gotten stung (both elbows, and right below my armpit). Over the next couple of days, the whole area was really irritated. It alternately itched and stung, and there was this weird sort of throbbing feeling. Eventually, I cottoned on to the fact that these were, in fact, larvae laid in my body that were living off my flesh and that weird throbbing and itching was from the larvae wiggling around in me and ... it was a Really Unhappy moment.

When I worked in Peru, one of the researchers had gotten her botflies out by putting a piece of meat over the hole where the botfly lived (botfly larvae maintain little round holes that they've burrowed into you through, presumably so they can breath?) and enticing it out that way. I'm vegetarian, so that wasn't going to work. I'd heard that people cover the hole with a cigarette and that suffocates them, so they pop out. I don't smoke, either, so that wouldn't work. Beyond that, I had no real idea about getting the horrible maggotthing out of me. I have never wished harder for the internet.

I tried using my venom extractor, which is useful for getting out wasp, bee, and snake venom through the power of suction, but unfortunately, all it did for my botflies was leave a hickey mark and a sore bruise on an already irritated and uncomfortable welt. Eventually, I decided it was bad enough to try out my tentative French and ask my field assistants for help. "Excuse me," I said, "I have a question that is weird but I think I have a baby fly living in my arm and I want it to be gone." Ferdinand and Richard looked at the things on my elbows, and said, "Yep! It's a baby fly alright!" and both took turns squeezing the sides of my elbows, but nothing would come out. "I think they're still to small to come out," they told me. "Just keep squeezing."

So I left it for a day or two, until really I had big, hard, oozing welts on both elbows that really hurt (because there isn't a whole lot of flesh for larvae to attach themselves to), and the one in my armpit was doing the same thing. On my birthday, a few days later, I was sitting and waiting for my food to cook, and got really fed up with the damn botflies, and squeezed and squeezed and then it literally went "pop" and a botfly larvae flew out of my arm and landed on the floor where I promptly squished it and then got totally nauseous and dizzy and cried about being eaten alive by parasites on my birthday. I got Ferdinand and Richard to do the same thing for my elbows, since I couldn't get very good leverage for squeezing. They were all probably about a half centimeter long. That was 4 and a half months ago, and I still have pretty decent scars, and the traces of a lump in my armpit.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2012 [48 favorites]


Goddamn it, I'm about to go to Central America.

How do I not get this?
posted by empath


I guess you could survive on only soda and prepackaged, highly processed junk food while you're there. Brainworms almost seem better than that, though.
posted by elizardbits at 12:36 PM on May 16, 2012


I'd heard that people cover the hole with a cigarette and that suffocates them, so they pop out.

Bit late now, but I've heard you can smear Vaseline over the hole (this may have been from a doc where a woman had a bot fly in her head I once watched in morbid fascination)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:44 PM on May 16, 2012


To quote the Corpse Bride, "(embarassed) Heh, heh... maggots."

(No, you probably shouldn't click on that link.)
posted by IAmBroom at 12:54 PM on May 16, 2012


Why can't I stop reading? STOP READING and CLICKING LINKS!

*breaks fingers after scratching out eyes*
posted by rich at 1:12 PM on May 16, 2012


Bit late now, but I've heard you can smear Vaseline over the hole

Based on some quick youtubeing (and omg there are many botfly extractions on there,) I think people also commonly use duct tape on the holes to deprive them of oxygen / bring them to the surface.
posted by Theta States at 1:54 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder how the tapeworm larvae would fare in poisoning tyranical monarchs. They should make it past the tasters, because of the time delay. How many would you have to feed them to get one to reliably land in the brain? How would the infection affect their behavior prior to doing them in?
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2012


I wonder how the tapeworm larvae would fare in poisoning tyranical monarchs.

They're not tyrannical! They're just hungry.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:22 PM on May 16, 2012


Jesus H Christ. The picture is worth a thousand nightmares. My brain itches now and I am panicking.
posted by marienbad at 2:38 PM on May 16, 2012


ChuraChura: "That was 4 and a half months ago, and I still have pretty decent scars, and the traces of a lump in my armpit."

Holy shit, you've got to show off the scars at the next meet-up
posted by Blasdelb at 3:40 PM on May 16, 2012


That was 4 and a half months ago, and I still have pretty decent scars

ChuraChura's from the same town as me and every time she posts something as utterly badass as the above story my heart swells with pride for my people
posted by Greg Nog at 4:12 PM on May 16, 2012


Greg Nog, I tell people at meetups that we're from the same town with a great sense of pride!
posted by ChuraChura at 5:05 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why this article is scary:

1) I've lived in and traveled around poor countries

2) I loves me the cheap and yummy street foods

3) I especially loves me the pork stuffs

4) On occasion I have gotten disgustingly ill from said street foods

It's pretty much undeniable that there are small ugly creatures eating my brain right now like so many porky street snacks.

If you go through the last ten years of my MeFi comments you can probably get a timelapse of my deterioration, like that depressing Agatha Christie study they did a few years back.
posted by dgaicun at 5:43 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are helpful little helminths which can be quite useful for those with serious autoimmune problems... but yeah, nobody wants tapeworms. They're basically just dicks.

Yup, a few years ago I read about a guy that infected himself with worms. Good times.
posted by MikeKD at 6:08 PM on May 16, 2012


When I was taking parasitology, I used to play a game with myself, could I do my reading while eating dinner. These guys made me lose. Their heads still make appearances in my nightmares. Do not want, indeed.

Although whipworms and pinworms (especially how you diagnose the latter) were no picnic either, but no brain involvement either.

(Also, there were a few slides in the course where worms were diagnosed because they would descend through the nostril. It was just awful.)
posted by ltracey at 6:21 PM on May 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ok, that hookworm guy takes the cake. He flies to Cameroon, goes out into the boonies, and finds open air latrines to walk around in barefoot hoping to catch some worms:

Seeing me the locals would often get fairly aggressive, wondering what the hell a white guy was doing walking around barefoot in their toilets. Still, I did get to meet a lot of interesting people. Unfortunately they were usually very intimidating, at least until they had calmed down.
posted by Forktine at 6:48 PM on May 16, 2012


In 1980, a Dutch woman friend of mine, who had been living in India for many years, as I had been, had a hydatid tapeworm cyst brain surgery. Pig tapeworm on the brain. Extremely dangerous.

The thing hydatid cysts usually turn up in other places in the body, not just the brain. in the spleen, liver, lungs. One of those suckers breaks and they critter are all over the place internally. The life cycle.

Googling it now I found an amusing YouTube video of the extraction of a huge hydatid cyst. Here it is at the moment it plops into the bowl with the exclamations of the surgeon and staff in the OR. It's less disgusting a video than you would think. Anyway I liked it and felt hope for the person who suffered with the cyst. YAY brain plasticity.

Here's a hydatid song. One of the verses:
My little sister Jenny used
To play out in the sand,
But when she came inside for lunch
She didn't wash her hands!
Chorus:
Cysts are cute, cysts are beaut,
Cysts are drop dead sexy!
Bob the kelpie got hydatids
And now we're all infecty!
Jenny didn't wash her hands so she's got no excuses!
We're all full of baby worms and parasitic juices!


When I lived in the Indian Himalayas, my sweet little dog, Norbu, used to pick up dried cow pats, like they were frisbees. And he got bovine tapeworm. That was bad enough. He used to poop what looked like a bowlful of spaghetti, except it was tapeworm. I worried he might get pig tapeworm but, thankfully, there were no pigs in the neighborhood. And the problem with dogs pooping tapeworm segment is that the segments dry into dust and the eggs then blow in the wind, getting picked up any place.

Living in India meant, for me, getting comfortable with the idea of living with parasites in my body and it was a relief to get treated for them when I returned West.

Should you or anybody you know get a parasitic critter - or critters - living inside your body, the doctor of choice to see in NYC is:
Kevin Cahill, MD
850 5th Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Phone: (212) 879-2607

He doesn't have any bedside manner, all nuts and bolts, the wait is long. But the diagnosis and treatment are the important part. He has a lab on premises.

Here's an interview with him on Charlie Rose.
posted by nickyskye at 6:58 PM on May 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


I like to cook, and as someone who has learned to appreciate the wonders of just-done meat and fish, this article raised important questions for my own cooking:

• How to buy and handle meat—commercial v.s. farmer's market, home preprocessing, etc.
• Thermometers—correct/effective use, advantages/disadvantages.
• What are the safety implications of various recipes (e.g., slow-roasted salmon)?
posted by polymodus at 7:07 PM on May 16, 2012


A whole article about tapeworms without a discussion of prevention is alarmist grossout/outragefilter and I expected a lot better from Carl Zimmer. Especially since he also cheerfully glossed over the fact that US cases of taeniasis and cysticercosis are very limited because the US has federal food safety programs, and regulations about pasturing and watering food animals (for now, anyway - who knows what the pursuit of austerity and market freedom will bring?) to break the chain of infection.

Now head into the most recent handwashing thread for all the comments expressing pride at not washing their hands after using the restroom.

Well, unless those people are instead letting pigs lick their hands clean, that is not the source of this problem.


Not quite - taeniasis is an intestinal infection with adult worms caused by eating tapeworm-infected meat, but cysticercosis is a different disease caused by the larval cysts of the worms. If you have taeniasis, the larvae can go for a stroll elsewhere in your body, resulting in cysticercosis of the eye, heart, skin, muscles, or brain. Or you can be someone uninfected with the worm who just happens to consume some of the larvae shed by the tapeworm carrier. This is where human handwashing, toileting, and treatment comes in.

Cooking meat to a safe temperature (or freezing it for more than four days, or irradiating it with 1 kGy if you happen to have a cobalt-60 source sitting around) kills tapeworms and their larvae. Naturally, if you've got an infected person or animal in your household, you need to ensure that feces are disposed of appropriately, and that everyone washes their hands thoroughly after toileting and before eating.

On a more serious note, does the typical tapeworm lifecycle really depend on spending the larval stage inside pigs and the worm stage inside people? So it's a parasite that only formed after the domestication of pigs, very recently?

Pork tapeworms (T. solium) can skip pigs altogether once they've got a human host - eggs can be transferred fecal-orally within human populations. T. saginata (beef tapeworm) eggs are infectious only to cattle. Apparently, though, tapeworms have been humans' boon companions since we started eating meat 780,000 to 1.71M years ago.
posted by gingerest at 7:42 PM on May 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


T. saginata (beef tapeworm) eggs are infectious only to cattle.

Taenia saginata, also known as Taeniarhynchus saginata or the beef tapeworm, is a parasite of both cattle and humans, causing taeniasis in humans.

Tapeworm infections are zoonotic infections as they are transmitted to man from animals (pig, cow, fish and dog).

Maybe my dog had this tapeworm, Taenia ovis? Huh, maybe he didn't get it from the neighbor's cow pats after all but from the shepherds herding their sheep through the mountains? Or from human poop, or a mouse or rabbit?

Oh wow, there's a whole load of different types of tapeworm.

As a kid I heard about the tapeworm diet. It seems it came back into fashion a few years ago.
posted by nickyskye at 8:13 PM on May 16, 2012


Yeah, there's loads of kinds of parasitic tapeworms, but only three that affect humans. (I didn't talk about T. asiatica because it basically acts like T. solium and can live in cattle AND pigs.)

Oh, man, yeah, that diet comes and goes. Snopes hasn't updated the entry in a while, either. Did the Tyra Banks show actually find anyone who'd done it, or just people who said they would?
posted by gingerest at 8:29 PM on May 16, 2012


I had a brain MRI last year and -- assuming that MRIs can see them -- I am 100% CERTIFIED BRAIN WORM FREE. So that's something.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:57 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That picture has pretty much ruined cauliflower for me.
posted by flabdablet at 1:47 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's almost like some of you haven't been listening to the This Week in Parasitism podcast. I recommend skipping episodes 1 & 2 and go straight to episode 3. This is the first of 3 long episodes of Dick Despommier expounding on every amazing aspect of Trichinella. Then they move on to, like, 8 episodes about every different kind of tapeworm...
posted by polecat at 2:30 AM on May 17, 2012


STOP EATING MY THOUGHTS
posted by Green Winnebago at 5:50 AM on May 17, 2012


Poor Professor Jameson.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:26 AM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


A year ago my husband had a catscan of his head after a bicycle accident and the doctor said he had a dried up dead tapeworm in his brain, fossilized I guess you could say. He said it was probably from eating undercooked pork. We were both sufficiently grossed out. From then on I make sure I cook our pork chops til they are almost burnt.
posted by daydreamer at 7:20 AM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


ChuraChura, the solution, as always, is to use duck tape over the botfly for a day to suffocate it, when you remove the tape it'll stick out and you can grab it with tweezers. Or at least that's what I learned on youtube.
posted by coust at 11:23 AM on May 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, apparently squeezing them out can pop them and then you've got bug guts in a wound potentially causing infection. Yech.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:13 PM on May 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really, really wish that I hadn't seen that photo.
posted by medusa at 9:47 PM on May 17, 2012


The Lady Chichibio made a blueberry loaf cake yesterday; I didn't have the heart to tell her what it reminded me of.

Still delicious, though.
posted by Chichibio at 5:05 AM on June 13, 2012


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