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Woman Has Tingling In Her Leg, But It Turns Out To Be Something Hidden Under The Surface

Most people will say that if you feel any kind of pain or odd sensation for more than a few days, even if it's not debilitating, you should go get it checked out to be safe. It's medical advice you've probably given to others yourself. But while most of us are quick to dispense this advice, few of us are willing to take it. A lot of us will just keep on trucking, for weeks or even months, and ignore minor nagging health issues.

One woman finally went to the doctor to see why her leg was feeling weak and tingly. What the doctors found shocked her: a worm.

A 35-year-old woman in France learned she had a parasitic worm hiding in her spine. The woman from Dijon had been experiencing tingling sensations in her legs for three months.

Things had only been getting worse, and she was starting to feel weaker and weaker. Eventually it began to feel like little electric shocks in her leg. It got to the point at which she couldn't ride her horse anymore, so she finally went to the emergency room.

Doctors were at first baffled by the symptoms, but after a series of tests they finally found the culprit. They checked her spine carefully and found a lobed lump on her thoracic vertebra. It turned out to be Echinococcus granuloses-- a tapeworm hiding in her spine.

The doctors said they were shocked.

"To be perfectly honest, we couldn't imagine it could be echinococcosis," said Dr. Lionel Piroth of the Center Hospitalier Universitaire de Dijon.

Echinococcosis is uncommon in France. The tapeworm is more common in tropical regions, especially in underdeveloped areas. It is usually passed on to humans by animals.

The woman said she had not been out of the country. She does have a pet cat but the parasite is usually passed on by dogs. It is possible she ate raw produce contaminated from a dog that had been infected, doctors say.

Another thing uncommon about the woman's condition is that the tapeworm rarely infects the spine. When eggs are accidentally swallowed, they tend to hatch and go through the circulatory system to various organs. Usually, the tapeworm is found in the liver. Sometimes they'll go to the lungs. Occasionally they'll go to the brain, but it is unusual for the worm to go to the spine or bones.

Usually, patients will not have symptoms for years when they have echinococcosis. In this patient's case, a cyst grew on her spine where the worm was hiding. The pressure of the cyst are what caused her symptoms.

Doctors put the woman on antiparasitic medication, and took care of the cyst through surgery. Within a few months, the woman was like new again.

Doctors say she was lucky. Some 20 percent of patients who use the antiparasitic drug albendazole will suffer from side effects, including liver toxicity. Even when used with surgery to remove the parasite it is not 100 percent effective.

"After 40 years of use of albendazole, we have nothing new that is really efficient against the disease, and that is really an issue," said Dr. Dominique Vuitton of the University of Franche-Comté. Vuitton is a member of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Prevention and Treatment of Human Echinococcosis.
Source: CNN
Photos: Wikimedia Commons/Mogana Das Murtey and Patchamuthu Ramasamy, KDS444, Harker School Staff Photographer

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