A 25-year-old Australian woman was found to have tapeworm larvae in her brain — after experiencing a headache for more than a week, researchers said.
The unidentified woman, a barista who never traveled overseas, is the first case of the disease contracted in Australia, according to a new study in The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
For seven years, the woman had experienced migraines two or three times a month that would subside with prescribed migraine medication, CNN reported.
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But a recent headache that lasted more than a week and caused visual problems led her to seek treatment again.
Doctors ordered an MRI that led them to suspect that a tumour might be causing her headache, but an operation revealed that her brain contained a cyst of tapeworm larvae.
She was diagnosed with the parasite known as neurocysticercosis, which can be deadly and cause neurological symptoms, the outlet reported.
People typically contract the disease from eating undercooked pork, which can carry tapeworm, or from coming into contact with food, water and soil contaminated with tapeworm eggs, CNN reported.
Researchers noted that the only previous cases in Australia came from people who traveled to regions in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Neither the woman nor her relatives had travelled to any of the regions where the tapeworm was common, researchers said.
But they noted that her work as a barista involved interaction with people from many countries.
“Clinicians need to be mindful that with the ease and frequency of world travel, diseases such as [neurocysticercosis] that are highly endemic in many parts of the world pose a risk to inhabitants of countries with low endemicity,” researchers wrote, News.com.au reported.