The doctor didn't believe the patient when he said he had a tapeworm – but was in for a shock when the patient revealed that he'd brought it with him to the hospital.
When Dr. Kenny Bahn of the Fresno Community Regional Medical Center heard that his patient was asking to be treated for tapeworms, he didn’t believe him.
“I get asked this a lot,” the doctor said. “Truthfully, a lot of times I don’t think they have it.”
His patient, however, was telling the truth. Inside a plastic grocery bag, wrapped around an empty toilet paper tube, was a tapeworm, measuring at five foot six inches.
According to Bahn, the patient was using the restroom at his home, when he noticed what looked like a piece of intestine hanging out of his body.
“He grabs it, and he pulls on it, and it keeps coming out,” Bahn said. He then picked the worm up, “looks at it, and what does it do? It starts moving.”
The man apparently instantly realized he was dealing with a tapeworm. Once he gathered the worm up and wrapped it for travel, the patient headed to the hospital.
After discovering that the man was, indeed, suffering from a tapeworm, he was treated with a single-treatment anthelmintic, the same kind of deworming treatment used on dogs.
Though tapeworms can be contracted in many ways, the patient did not report traveling out of the country or doing anything that wasn’t a part of his usual routine.
He had, however, been eating sushi – a lot of sushi. Specifically, sushi consisting of raw salmon, which he admitted to eating every day. Though California is, of course, a coastal state, Fresno lies roughly 150 miles inland and isn’t exactly a sushi hot spot.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against eating raw fish in the Pacific Coast region, as it had spurred a recent increase in cases of Japanese broad tapeworm.
Afer treating the patient, Bahn said that he measured the tapeworm on the floor of the hospital, which he was delighted to report was his own height.