A British man almost died after a parasite crawled up his private part and began laying eggs after he went for a swim in Lake Malawi in southeast Africa throughout a holiday with friends.
32-year-old James Michael caught schistosomiasis also recognized as bilharzia while his dream Africa trip.
The 32-year-old went to Africa with 3 friends in August 2017. They traveled from Zambia to Zimbabwe before visiting Malawi for 5 days.
The group swam and canoed every day on Lake Malawi, before flying back to the UK. It was back in England that James’ nightmare started.
In October last year, he began to notify a loss of feeling in both his legs – but initially put that down to fatigue from cycling. But he examined himself into the hospital when simple tasks like climbing the stairs to his flat became exhausting.
James was provided antibiotics and sent home but, a week later, he sensed even worse and so came back to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
He responded: “I went to the neurology department and they conduct blood tests to view what was up. They learned quite quickly that my immune system was hitting my spine, leading to the loss of control of my legs.
“I was put on a 6-month course of steroids to battle this…but they didn’t really know what had caused this.”
Doctors from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases ultimately said to James a parasitic worm had crawled up his private part and laid eggs in his body.
A week before Christmas he was diagnosed with schistosomiasis, an infection that’s created by a parasitic worm that lives in freshwater in tropical regions. It’s most commonly discovered in Africa.
James was prescribed a medication called praziquantel that eliminates the worms.
He replied: “That eliminated the infection but I was left basically weakened. They said to me there was a 30 percent chance I’d make a full recovery – 10 years from now.
“It was a terrible feeling – I felt completely helpless, and the odds weren’t good. I couldn’t want what I’ve been through on anybody.”
James spent a whole of 3 months in the hospital using a wheelchair and then 4 months on crutches – until April this year.
James also missed his appetite and explained how his girlfriend could not even hug him as it was too painful.