Woman operated upon for rare worm disease

What started as an unbearable stomachache for Vimla Devi (name changed) turned out to be much more dangerous and shocking. She was found to have an infestation of a rare kind of worm called Fasciola Buski.

“She complained of severe stomachache, had continuous bouts of nausea, stomach upset and also suffered from anaemia. She visited many doctors, but none of the medicines worked she said,” said Dr Umesh Jalihal, professor and HoD of Gastroenterology at M S Ramaiah Hospital. Since she was from an impoverished family and showed symptoms of malnutrition, the real cause was difficult to diagnose.

“We did many tests. But it was only after we did an endoscopy did the worms get detected. The infestation was present on the wall of her large intestine and also pits of the small intestine,” Jalihal said. “When we operated upon her, we extracted about half a bucket of worms,” he said.

What is Fasciola Buski?

The flatworm causes a parasitic disease called fasciolopsiasis and feeds on blood cells and mucus with the main host being humans or pigs where it is found in its adult stage. Found in China, India, Malaysia, South-East Asia and Taiwan, it is common in areas where pigs are reared. They are also found in areas where people feed on freshwater plants. Found in huge numbers in the human intestine, it can cause death if undetected. It is a yeast like worm - flat and brown in colour.

In the case of Vimla Devi, the doctors realised that she had poor hygiene and also lived in an area which lacked good sanitation. While Vimla Devi is now fine, doctors say people from such areas need to be careful.

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