Doctors at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi have removed rare intestinal worms from the abscesses appearing on the limbs of a man in the northern Vietnamese province of Yen Bai.
The worm is identified as Dracunculus medinensis — a species of roundworm that causes Guinea worm disease, according to Dr. Tran Thuong Viet.
This species of intestinal worm had never been discovered in Vietnam before but is commonly found in India, Southwest Asia, and rural areas of Africa.
Dr. Viet said that the abscesses had first appeared on the 23-year-old patient’s legs before spreading to his arms two to three days later.
Abscesses can occur when worms rupture before emerging, causing an acute inflammatory response from the host’s immune system, according to parasitology experts.
“Every time the worms came out, they caused pain and itch, so the patient soaked his feet in the water, [in this way] releasing the larvae into the water and further spreading them,” said Dr. Viet.
As the worms have existed in a large number in the patient’s body, he has been treated with medicine to help the worms grow and reveal themselves.
In the first surgery to open the abscesses on the man, surgeons removed a 60-centimeter worm.
In another similar surgery on Friday, two worms measuring 30 centimeters long each were removed from his body.
Doctors have been taking out the parasitic worms from the patient every few days as they mature.
A total of five grown Dracunculus medinensis have been collected so far.
“As there is no specific medication [for the disease caused by this worm], we have used the usual dose to remove the worms,” Dr. Viet said, adding doctors will investigate the origin of the worm.
“We believe that the worm eggs are spread via a water source. Upon entering the patient’s body, the female worms will enter the muscle areas and get out through the skin,” the doctor added.