A woman suffered hallucinations, insomnia and incontinence for months after she ate five-day-old sushi from a service station.
Medics treating the woman, a 34-year-old only identified as ‘JC’, were left bamboozled as to what was causing her illness – until they eventually discovered the problem living in her gut.
A giant tapeworm had been lurking in her stomach for nine months.
Her symptoms started after she arrived home late from work and realised she hadn’t eaten all day.
Starving and with no restaurants open to order from, JC opened the fridge and spotted some sushi she’d bought five days ago from a service station.
“The fish did taste a little sour but she just put soy sauce on it to mask it out … the five-day-old sushi was so uneventful she didn’t even remember eating it,” ChubbyEmu said.
JC spent months suffering with malnutrition,incontinence, sleepless nights, anxiety, and hallucinations of bugs crawling up the walls and underneath her skin.
It began with insomnia, with the sleepless nights leaving her anxious and confused and feeling like her heart was “beating out of her neck”.
Around the same time, JC started having stomach cramps, feeling her stomach jiggle and shake before she went to the toilet.
In the weeks after eating the suspect sushi, JC told her husband it felt like a fish was “flapping around in her belly”.
She endured months of treatments, blood tests and examinations and was rushed to the hospital twice after suffering terrifying seizures before doctors realised it might be a tapeworm and examined her stool and discovered thousands of tapeworm eggs.
They also found broken off segments of a tapeworm.
Doctors clocked the tapeworm as diphyllobothrium latum – one of the largest that can infect humans, and a species can grow up to 9m long.
The parasite loves vitamin B12 and is known to “compete” with humans it infects for the nutrient – which is exactly what it had been doing to JC, effectively starving her nerves and cells of an essential building block.
JC was given a single dose of praziquantel, an anti-worm medication and made a full recovery.
The woman’s story was told by YouTuber Chubby Emu, who works as a clinical adjunct professor and doctor in Chicago for the University of Illinois.
ChubbyEmu uses his YouTube channel to discuss rare medical cases that he or his colleagues have cracked, with his colourful and occasionally squeamish videos often go viral.