Medical conditions have become an increasingly common occurrence in people across the world. The reason for this ranges from people’s lifestyles and diets to deteriorating environments that we live in, thanks to pollution and climate change. A sewer worker from Spain showed up at a hospital with worms crawling under his skin and the internet cannot keep calm.
As mentioned in the New England Journal of Medicine, the 64-year-old man is a sewer treatment employee who realised that something was wrong with him when he started experiencing mild diarrhoea and itchy rashes. He then reported to the University Hospital in Madrid where his examination revealed that he had contracted Strongyloides stercoralis. It is a type of parasitic roundworm species that lives in tropical and subtropical regions around the world and causes a disease called strongyloidiasis.
The roundworms are transmitted through contact between human skin and contaminated soil, after which “they penetrate the human host and reach the intestine where they mature into adults and produce eggs”, states World Health Organization. It is unclear how the sanitation worker got infected, but doctors suggest that the man worked in sewage management all his life in an urban region of Spain. So it didn’t come as a surprise to them when the man was diagnosed with Strongyloidiasis.
Since Strongyloidiasis is mostly asymptomatic, the man may have been suffering from it for years. But, what led to his symptoms surfacing is his hormone therapy for malignant spinal cord compression that suppressed his immune system. The patient, therefore, went into a state of hyperinfection, a potentially fatal condition in which the abundance of larvae can trigger sepsis and organ failure. It went to a point where the roundworms were literally wriggling under his skin.
Futurism reported that the photos of the worker’s infection looked “more like shoddily done tattoos than a parasite because his doctors drew outlines of the initial positions of the larvae just under his skin". This was done to highlight the movement of the larvae over the course of a day.
The patient’s symptoms cleared up as soon as he was prescribed ivermectin, a medicine given for all kinds of roundworm infections.
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