Worm that can imitates CANCER?! WARNING: Grafic content!

in health •  last year

As I wrote in my first post yesterday, I'm about to share with you, my dear Steemers, things that I found out during my medical studies that made me say "whaat?!".
This is one of this curiosities and I hope you also will consider this interesting. If you're eating right now I suggest you to stop reading. Or eating. Thank me later.


They're almost as deadly as the one above. And definitely less cool.

Briefly, there is a worm that exists in nothern part of the world, that you can get from eating unwashed food and which grows in your body and devastate it. Gross, isn't it?

It is called Echinococcus multilocularis and it's a type of tapeworms. The adult parasites are 2 mm long and occupy small intestine of carnivorous mammals like foxes, volves, coyotes and sometimes also domestic dogs. They are worms' definitive host. It means that parasites inhabiting them are adult and able to produce eggs. One worm can produce hundreds of microscopic eggs.

what a cutepie!

The incidences of alveococcosis occur in Alaska, Canada, Siberia, China, Japan and Europe.
The number of cases increased within the last few decades. It is caused by growing the population of foxes. For example in Poland, the number of foxes changed from 67k In 1997 to 215k in 2007. The disease is rare, but shouldn't be ignored due to irreversible and serious complications it may induce.

Humans can get infected by the contact with the feces of definitive hosts. It usually happens by consuming contaminated food, vegetables or water. Sometimes the infection occurs when people eat unwashed fruits found in the forest, like blueberries and wild strawberries.
Eggs ingested by humans penetrates the intestinal walls and cirrculates with the blood.

They get to the different organs such as liver, lungs, brain and heart

and there they develop into next form of their life cycle - multilocular cysts. It means that humans are usually worm's intermediate hosts.

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Life cycle of the Echinococcus multilocularis

The parasites proliferate slowly (only about 1cm a year) and the infection stays asymptomatic for a long time.

When they're grow enough to give symptoms, they often imitate malignant tumors. People with alveococcosis usually suffer from headache, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. When the parasites attack the liver, it can cause hepatomegaly, jaundice and ascites.F7.large.jpg

liver of a patient

How to diagnose the patient when the USG and X-rays shows a big mass that can equally be a cancer? thankfully we aren't left for our own. Doctors use serological test. It means that we check if our patient had the contact with the antigens of the worm and if he produced antibodies. The treatment usually consists of the medicines such as albendazol and 2-ME2 and surgical excision of the locules. Sometimes patients must take the medicaments to the end of their lives to prevent relapse!

Dissected rat showing evidence of the disease

In my opinion it is crucial to remember that such dangerous worm exists due to the fact that if no treatment is initiated, the disease may be fatal in 94% within 10-20 years.

Here we get to the most essential question: how to prevent the infection? The answer is pretty simple.

We must:

  • never eat vegetables and fruits that weren't primarly washed.
  • avoid the contact with wild animals in the woods.
  • remember to frequently visit vet with your domestic dogs.

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Wow that seems like one very nasty infection to get. The liver in the picture looks very bad and it seems like you won't survive long if that happens inside of you. Have fun out there and good luck with future posts!

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It is nasty indeed!

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Thank you for sharing this, following you

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thank you! Following back! xx

Fascinating but gross, thanks for posting!