Tapeworm larvae found in woman’s spine

Her doctors say it is unclear how she got the infection

Doctors in a France report on the case of a 35-year-old woman who presented to the emergency department with tapeworm larvae lurking in her spine.

But this bizarre discovery was not revealed until much later in clinical investigations.

In a case report published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors note the patient’s symptoms included “electric shocks” and weakness in her legs, along with repeated falls.

They say physical examination showed “impaired sensation in both legs and weak foot flexion”.

Laboratory tests showed an elevated total white cell count.

But what looked like an epidural lesion at her ninth vertebra on imaging turned out to be tapeworm larvae caused by an infection of Echinococcus granulosus — a small tapeworm found in dogs and some farm animals, with humans as incidental hosts.

Pathological testing revealed cystic echinococcosis

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