The woman’s case was told by Bernard Hsu, a Clinical Adjunct Professor at the University of Illinois, who blogs about medical cases on YouTube as Chubbyemu.
Nine months after eating the old sushi, Professor Hsu said the mum, 34, known as JC, presented to the emergency room with insomnia, psychosis and sensory deficits.
Her husband, Jonathan, told doctors she suffered incontinence and a psychotic episode while curled up on the floor the night before she was admitted. She hadn’t slept in three days and had a seizure.
JC had purchased the sushi from a petrol station. She got home late from work and had nothing to eat.
“The fish did taste a little sour but she just put soy sauce on it to mask it out … the five-day-old sushi was so uneventful she didn’t even remember eating it,” Professor Hsu.
For a few months after eating it, she felt fine. But about five months afterwards, JC began to suffer insomnia, stomach cramps and watery stool.
JC reported seeing little bugs crawling around in the corners of her eyes and later crawling under her skin. She also felt like a fish was “flapping around” in her stomach.
Seventh months later, after trying melatonin and essential oils, doctors couldn’t determine what was wrong with the mum.
They tried cognitive behaviour therapy with her but it didn’t work. A blood sample was taken.
She was found to have macrocytosis, which is when red blood cells are larger than normal, along with anemia, which means she had less of them than normal.
Doctors also found she had issues with spatial awareness, suggesting issues with her brain.
JC was underweight and her husband told doctors she was only eating breakfast daily. Before this she had been dieting.
Doctors discover source of woman’s health problems
Dr Hsu said doctors found out “exactly” what they needed to know after noting her vitamin B12 levels were low. Vitamin B12 has to be sourced as the body can’t create it.
It creates red blood cells and DNA. In this case, the lack of B12 caused nerve problems leading to psychosis.
JC was given vitamin B12 and her condition improved, however she still suffered insomnia.
She took more vitamins but began feeling the bugs again and had another seizure.
Her blood was checked again and she was found to still have a B12 deficiency.
Doctors began to question whether something in her body was taking the vitamins from her.
They checked her stool and found thousands of tiny eggs that appeared to be from a species of tapeworm.
She told doctors she hadn’t been eating many grains but remembered the sushi from nine months ago.
Doctors determined a diphyllobothrium latum, one of the largest species of tapeworm, was living inside JC.
The mum was prescribed praziquantel to kill the worm and has made a full recovery.
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