A Colombian HIV-positive man who'd gone off his meds died when a tapeworm in his body developed cancer and spread tumors to his lungs. It's the first known case of a person dying of a disease that had infected their parasite.
It was written up in the New England Journal of Medicine, where Dr. Atis Muehlenbachs, a staff pathologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Infectious Diseases Pathology Branch noted that as there are millions of HIV positive people and millions of people with tapeworm, there may be other unrecognized cases.
A CT scan showed tumors in his lung and lymph nodes, but biopsies of these tumors revealed bizarre cells, leading Colombian doctors to contact the CDC for assistance in diagnosing the man.
The cells, when examined under a microscope, acted like cancer cells — they multiplied quickly and crowded together. But the cells didn't appear to be human, they were 10 times smaller than human cancer cells.
After a number of tests, the researchers found DNA from a type of tapeworm called H. nana in the man's tumor. This result was surprising, the researchers said, because the cells did not look at all like tissue from a tapeworm. But further tests confirmed that the cells were indeed from H. nana.
Man Dies After Tapeworm Inside Him Gets Cancer
[Rachael Rettner/Live Science]