Surgeons have shared photos of dozens of ‘writhing’ parasitic worms removed from a four-year-old’s body after he complained of stomach pain.
The boy, from Cameroon, west Africa, was taken to hospital with a swollen abdomen and vomiting after suffering severe constipation for six months.
When they operated on the boy’s intestine, doctors were shocked to find it was completely blocked by dozens of ‘writhing worms’.
Medics were told the boy had never been tested for worms before and his family could not afford to take him to hospital as it was 47 miles away.
They removed the live worms during an operation and gave his whole family drugs to protect against the infection returning.
Stomach-churning photos show the wriggling creatures in a metal bowl on the operating table after the surgery.
It was discovered that the boy had a condition called ascariasis, which is a parasitic worm infection in the small intestine.
Ascariasis is the most common parasitic worm infection in the world and affects around 800million people, of which mostly are children under 10.
Dr Valirie Ndip Agbor said: “Our patient was four-years old and reported to have never been dewormed since birth.
“This most probably led to a high worm burden and culminated in [intestinal obstruction].
“This highlights the importance of regular deworming (biannually or at least annually) to clear off adult worms and their eggs from the bowel, in order to reduce worm burden and prevent the occurrence of life-threatening chronic complications”.
The condition is often prevalent in poorly sanitised areas.
Dr Agbor and his team said the boy lived in an area where roads are ‘poorly motorable’ and hilly, making it hard for both health workers and patients to travel around.
Fortunately, the worms were removed at the right time otherwise it could have led to malnutrition, physical growth problems and poor memory and thinking skills, the doctors said.
They added in a report in the Journal of Medical Case Reports: “The community needs to be sensitized on the importance of regular deworming and healthy practices such as: boiling water prior to drinking; proper hand washing with water and soap before handling food; and proper washing and cooking of vegetables before their consumption.
“Discouraging practices such as the use of human feces as manure in farms, while encouraging the use of toilets (avoiding open defecation) and development of proper animal (particularly pig) sewage disposal systems could equally help prevent transmission.”