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Doctors: Parasitic worm spent 4 years in man's foot

Doctors said a Dracunculiasis medinensis, or "guinea worm," can live inside a person's body for several years after entering through drinking water.

By
Ben Hooper

CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Doctors in Australia said a parasitic worm removed from a man's foot was likely inside his body for at least four years.

Dr. Jonathan Darby of St. Vincent's Hospital said the man, who moved to Melbourne from Sudan about four years ago, came into the hospital with a swollen foot he said had been causing him pain for about a year.

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Darby said an X-ray discovered there were two segments of Dracunculiasis medinensis, or "guinea worm," in his ankle and foot.

Doctors writing in the journal Pathology said the worm, which can grow to more than three feet in length, likely died inside the man's foot and split into pieces.

The doctors said the man was likely infected before he left Sudan.

The guinea worm infects humans through the water they drink and borrows through the body to exit through the foot, doctors said. The exit often creates a burning sensation that leads patients to submerge the affected foot in water, allowing the worm to infect the water with its larvae.

"That whole process can take years. It can sit inside the human body alive for years or die, degenerate, and then cause problems in the area like it did for our patient," Darby told Fairfax Media.

The man made a full recovery once the worm was surgically removed, doctors said.

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