Hudson Valley Woman’s Brain Tumor Turns Out to Be a Tapeworm
A Hudson Valley woman is "grossed out," but happy to be alive after surgeons found a tapeworm in her brain.
Surgeons were shocked to find out that a local woman's brain tumor was actually a baby tapeworm growing in her skull. The Washington Post says that Rachel Palma was complaining of sleeplessness, hallucinations and odd behavior. The 42-year-old Middletown woman started to lose her motor skills and became easily confused. Her mind was deteriorating so badly that she began talking nonsense. Once, she called her parents insisting that the store wanted them to return a bed they had purchased there years ago.
After a brain scan was taken, it was determined that Palma had a brain tumor. The newly married Hudson Valley woman was devastated by the news and prepared for surgery. What she could never prepare for, however, was the incredible outcome.
During her surgery at Mount Saini Hospital, surgeons opened Palma's skull, expecting to find a malignant tumor. Instead, they saw a mass that "resembled a quail egg." Stunned, the doctors removed the mass and dissected it. Inside they found a baby tapeworm.
The good news was that Palma would not need any further surgery or chemotherapy. Once the tapeworm was removed, her symptoms began to disappear. But the question remained; "how did a tapeworm get in her brain?" The answer is actually pretty gross.
If you're squeamish, you'll probably want to stop reading right now.
Tapeworms are actually pretty common. When they infect humans they do it in one of two ways. An adult worm can be hiding in undercooked food and, once eaten, the worm moves into your gut, making it their new home. There is, however, another way tapeworms can invade your body.
When someone has a tapeworm inside their intestines, the worm can lay eggs. Those eggs eventually come out of the infected person in their stool. If they don't properly wash their hands after using the bathroom, the eggs can be transferred to other people when preparing food.
The contaminated food delivers the eggs to the victim's stomach where it is sent through the bloodstream. Eventually, the eggs can travel to any part of a person's body. In Palma's case, the egg landed in her brain.
While this sounds terrifying, a case like Palma's is actually quite rare. Naturally, it's unsettling to think that something like this has happened in our own backyard, but there's no reason to believe that a person in the Hudson Valley is at more risk for a tapeworm in their brain than anyone else.
As for Palma, she says that since the tapeworm was removed from her skull she has recovered "almost 100 percent."