AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN/CNN) - A Texas man has successfully had a tapeworm removed from his brain in what doctors are calling a miracle.
Doctors think the tapeworm had been growing slowly ever since the man, identified only as Gerardo, contracted it from eating undercooked pork in Mexico more than a decade ago.
Gerardo says he got an MRI after fainting last year while playing soccer. He says he had been having headaches and “feeling off” for months prior to the fall.
"It's very intense, very strong because it made me sweat too, sweat from the pain, pain in the head, and then, I would vomit from the pain," said Gerardo in Spanish.
Even so, Gerardo was shocked when the MRI revealed a tapeworm in his brain.
After a complex surgery to remove the tapeworm, Gerardo says he’s back to his normal self. He has even returned to work.
Dr. Jordan Amadio, neurosurgeon at Ascension Seton, says the man’s case was “rare and truly extraordinary.” Interestingly, a tapeworm had also been found in Gerardo’s sister’s brain years earlier.
“In certain regions of the country, like Texas and California, this can be more common. So, there’s definitely something, I think, for every medical professional to be aware of. It is not commonly seen and can actually masquerade as different things,” Amadio said.
Several kinds of tapeworms, which are found worldwide, cause the parasitic infection taeniasis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Eating raw or undercooked beef or pork is the primary risk factor for becoming infected.
Most people with tapeworm infections have no symptoms or only mild symptoms.