Of all the things you’d be horrified to learn were living inside your body, the Chestburster from Alien is probably number one. Actually, yes, that’s definitely number one. But a six-foot tapeworm isn’t too far behind. In 2014, doctors pulled one of those suckers out of a 48-year-old Indian man, and wrote about their horrific discovery—complete with pictures and video!—in the latest issue of the New England Journal Of Medicine. (That’s the tapeworm above.)
The man had been complaining of some pretty bad abdominal pain that lingered for two months, so docs performed a colonoscopy to discover the source. That’s about the time they found “an undulating, moving piece of the worm,” Dr. Cyriac Phillips told CNN, and uncovered the rest of the creature during a follow-up endoscopy, a procedure that doctors use to look at your intestines. So they sedated the man and extracted the worm by pulling it out through his mouth with a pair of forceps, because what else are you going to use to dig up a six-foot tapeworm? Your bare hands? “We pulled at it softly and steadily, and ultimately the job was done after maybe around one hour and 15 minutes,” Phillips said. “I have never seen a tapeworm this long before this particular case.”
Turns out 6.1 feet is nothing for this particular kind of tapeworm, which docs classified as Taenia solium, or a “pork tapeworm” that you can pick up by eating contaminated food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says a fully grown pork tapeworm can measure up to a whopping 23 feet long, which, holy hell. In order to ensure they’d never have to do something like that again, doctors gave the man a medication that killed all the remaining eggs in his intestines. One month later, he was tapeworm-free. But we suspect it’ll always be a part of him.
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