Giovanni Battista Grassi: The Man Who Deliberately Ate Parasitic Worms Extracted From A Dead Man's Feces

in #science6 years ago (edited)

Giovanni Battista Grassi (credit)

Excuse the late post today! It's Clean Monday here on Greece, the first day of the Orthodox Lent, or in another words another excuse for us Greeks to not work and eat and drink like pigs :D

So, what I have for you today is another crazy scientist, named Giovanni Battista Grassi, who took his science to the extreme. A man, or better a legend who like the other brave scientists I have posted about didn't mind sacrificing his own well being for the better good! In case you missed the previous episodes, don't forget to read about Nicolae Minovici who repeatedly hanged himself, Evan O’Neill Kane who operated on himself 3 times, Michael Smith who purposely put bees to sting his penis and Frederick Hoelzel who ate asbestos and sawdust among other things! 

Back to our hero now. Giovanni Battista Grassi was an Italian physician and zoologist, born on 27 March 1854 and died 4 May 1925. During his lifetime Giovanni contributed so much in science that it will take me ages to finish this post if I was to cover everything in full detail. Since I am still a bit drunk just let me quote his CV summary from wikipedia:

He was Professor of Comparative Zoology at the University of Catania from 1883, and Professor of Comparative Anatomy at Sapienza University of Rome from 1895 until his death.
 His scientific contributions covered embryological development of honey bees, on helminth parasites, the vine parasite phylloxera, on migrations and metamorphosis in eels, and on termites. He was the first to describe and establish the life cycle of the human malarial parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, and discovered that only female anopheline mosquitoes are capable of transmitting the disease.
His works in malaria remain a lasting controversy in the history of Nobel Prizes, because a British army surgeon Ronald Ross, who discovered the transmission of malarial parasite in birds was given the 1902 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. But Grassi, who demonstrated the complete route of transmission of human Plasmodium, and correctly identified the types of malarial parasite as well as the mosquito vector, Anopheles claviger, was denied. 
Grassi was the first to demonstrate the life cycle of human dwarf tapeworm Taenia nana, and that this tapeworm does not require an intermediate host, contrary to popular belief. He was the first to demonstrate the direct life cycle of the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides by self-experimentation. He described canine filarial worm Dipetalonema reconditum, and demonstrated the parasite life cycle in fleas, Pulex irritans. He invented the genus of threadworms Strongyloides. He named the spider Koenenia mirabilis in 1885 after his wife, Maria Koenen. He pioneered the foundation of pest control for phylloxera of grapes.

As you can see, his biography is quite impressive and if you actually took the time to read that wall of quoted text you might got intrigued by that one sentence talking about Ascaris lumbricoides parasites and how he self-experimented with them. But before I give you all the grossy details allow me to give you a brief introduction on the parasite.

A. lumbricoides is the most common and largest parasitic roundworm found in humans. Adults can reach an impressive size of up to 35 cm and cause the disease ascariasis. The disease is prevalent worldwide, especially in tropical and subtropical countries. In case you are curious, here's how one of those wormies look like:


Adult A. lumbricoides tapeworm  (credit)

Today there is little we don't know about these parasites and treating the infection is not that difficult. But this wasn't always the case. Back in the 1800s they didn't even know how the parasite is transmitted! And here's where our brave hero comes!

On a nice sunny day on 10th October of 1878, Giovanni was assigned to make an autopsy on a body heavily infested with Ascaris lumbricoides. Actually, I have no idea if the day was sunny, but it felt like a nice way to start the story. So, as Giovanni was playing with the dead man's intestines he got his "Eureka" moment! He could actually eat some of the A. lumbricoides eggs and prove that the parasite can be directly transmitted from one host to another without any intermediary hosts! 

But he couldn't eat the eggs right away! First he had to prove that he himself wasn't infected! So he stored some fecal matter for future use and started to monitor his feces on a daily basis to make sure he was clean! For a whole year he used a microscope and examined his poop to make sure there were no worms or eggs there.

On 20 July 1879 and after about a year of looking at his shit with a microscope he decided that he had enough of his shit and he wasn't infected. It was finally time to have the dinner of his lifetime.

So he isolated about 100 eggs from the dead man's shit and did what any real man does in a situation like this. He ate them. A month later, Giovanni took a look again at his shit and surprise surprise, there were some cute tapeworm eggs there! His shit was proof that A. lumbricoides can be directly transferred from host to host!

Giovanni then proceeded to get treatment and continued with his life. Unfortunately, that was the first and last time he self-experimented so we have no more cool stories from him :(

Overall, I will give Giovanni a B+, purely for the gross factor. True, unlike the other crazy scientists I have posted about, there wasn't much pain involved. However, he did eat a bunch of parasitic eggs from a one year old poop, that was extracted by a dead body. Well done Giovanni, well done.

Sort:  

hahahaha man !
This:

On a nice sunny day on 10th October of 1878, Giovanni was assigned to make an autopsy on a body heavily infested with Ascaris lumbricoides. Actually, I have no idea if the day was sunny, but it felt like a nice way to start the story

and this:

he had enough of his shit

tooo funnyy

hehe, I think it's clear I really enjoyed writing this post :D

The mankind is full of mad people... By the way, Don Giovanni has an impressive long life taking into account his strange habit of experimenting dangerously with himself :-)

Well he only experimented on himself only once so that's why he survived for so long :P

Yuck It's not appealing at all ... But hey, at least it has the advantage of having advanced the research. It's true that it's crazy to do such things, but eventually it will have brought us a lot of information (uh ... I would not have done it for sure). He may not have found human guinea pigs? Always very interesting @trumpman, even if it is still a scientist a little, much, too crazy ^^

I'm a little astonished that the eggs survived for a year on their own- didn't realize how durable and hardy they are.

What a title! Lol.... That is a brave scientist. This article was so funny too from using the word shit so often..

after about a year of looking at his shit with a microscope he decided that he had enough of his shit and he wasn't infected. It was finally time to have the dinner of his lifetime.
..... A month later, Giovanni took a look again at his shit

Lmao it made it very entertaining to me at least. :)

It was very entertaining to write too :D

Not impressed at all. This dude is clearly a skatofloros !!!
The eggs he ate I bet they were very small , barely noticeable. And surely they didn't smell anything after a year. If he was a real man and a real scientist he would have eaten the other dude's shit right away.
Having said that I totally respect his contribution to science and public health.

He would get an A++ if he had done that!

On 20 July 1879 and after about a year of looking at his shit with a microscope

Ewww... I just began to imagine how gross it is to set on a year journey of self poop examination, shit, I think for a start this guy gets high on poop, what it smells like, and he was like, i could just taste this and get it over with, nice one trumpman, it gets even better :)

Hi

I have a question if you don't mind. From your comment I take that you actually read my post and liked it enough to leave a comment. I always try my best to respond to all comments and even upvote them. But lately I have seen more and more people leaving comments but never upvoting my posts. This is something that takes away both a lot of time and previous upvoting power from me but it's also something I enjoy but with my comments continuing to increase I will probably stop doing.

So, tldr is there a reason you didn't like my post? I would appreciate a honest reply.

Quite a miss from me, I should put a gun to the head for that. Got so captivated only to rush to the comment section, not cool. It's quite a character most in the steemit community should change, me included, and i think you just gave me that lifesaving push. We love your posts bro, smile the act out from me as I just left that hard mark to the heart not to repeat such.

ok thanks for the explanation :D

Yuks! Yuks! Yuks! Tapeworm caviar from a dead man's poop?! Yuks!

Thanks for information.

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