In an absurd turn of events a study conducted by a group of scientists at the Centre of Disease Control has discovered a new worm that could infect the human brain. Titled, Angiostrongylus Cantonensis Infection in Brown Rats (Rattus norvegicus), Atlanta, Georgia, USA, 2019–2022, the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a thorough research on a facility that identified a worm in wild rats. Rat lungworm or Angiostrongylus Cantonensis, is zoonotic and can be transferred to humans if they are bitten by the animal.
Parasitic Worm That Can Enter Brain Found In Atlanta
According to the study, “It causes eosinophilic meningoencephalitis (neural angiostrongyliasis) in humans and other accidental mammal hosts.” Eosinophilic Meningoencephalitis occurs when the larvae of Angiostrongylus are detected in your brain namely meninges and Parenchyma region. This is further escalated to the medulla, cerebellum, and pons area. It usually spreads when the feces of rats come into contact with our food items.
This is not the only way the worm can enter our body. Scientists believe several people have been infected by eating raw seafood, slugs, and snails. Moreover, it is also found in some frogs, crabs, and shrimps as well.
During the study, the researchers collected samples from internal organs of wild rats from Fulton County. Their sudden death had raised a number of suspicions and rang all kinds of alarm bells.
So when the test was conducted, it concluded, “Our molecular analysis confirmed the identity of A. cantonensis in 4/7 samples that had nematodes visible on histologic examination of heart, pulmonary artery, and brain tissues.” It is highly concerning given the severity of the disease. Now what could be the symptoms of the disease?
Once it is detected in our Cerebral Spinal Fluid in more than 10 %, the symptoms could start to begin. Initially however many could be devoid of any which makes it diabolic. People have been reported to experience severe headaches, paralysis, circular pain, and brain bleeding.
It has also been observed that patients are often in coma or internal hemorrhage. This condition is known to persist for a long period of time since the parasite is almost impossible to remove completely.
When looking at the treatment options, there is none that could be established as concrete. However, doctors do prescribe painkillers and Corticosteroids to alleviate the incessant pain in the head along with nausea. Unfortunately, when it enters our body there is nothing much to be done other than wait it out and treat the symptoms which is hardly effective.
The study found the presence of the parasite in samples from Georgia, Florida, and parts of the Southeastern United States. Earlier it was only identified in many of the Southeast Asian countries, Pacific Islands as well and Australia. This gives us all the more reason to be worried. So when should you get yourself tested?
Usually, a test is prescribed when you have any of the persisting symptoms. Since symptoms are not always present, the test should be conducted if you are in constant contact with mud or soil, you ate some raw seafood, or traveled to any of the countries where the disease has been established. Neck stiffness and increased heart rate are not to be taken lightly either.
To prevent yourself from the disease you could follow an array of instructions that included not eating raw food, wearing gloves while handling them, washing your hands frequently, not coming into contact with raccoons, and not venturing in the wild often.
In conclusion, the researchers believe, “Understanding patterns of the historic, contemporary, and future expansion of the range of A. cantonensis lungworm in North America through surveillance, genetic analysis, and modeling is critical to mitigating risk to humans and other animals for infection by this parasitic nematode, which harbors in synanthropic wild rodent and intermediate host populations.”
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