Chinese Man Discovers 20-Foot Tapeworm After Years of Consuming Raw Beef

by Deepti S11 months ago
Picture Chinese Man Discovers 20-Foot Tapeworm After Years of Consuming Raw Beef

Have you ever had the nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right with your body, but you can’t put your finger on it?

Prepare to be astounded by the story of a man in China who had an unexpected lodger in his small intestine. He had been experiencing diarrhea and abdominal pain for years, but it wasn’t until he went to a doctor that he learned the startling truth: he had a 20-foot tapeworm inside him!

Can you imagine the length of a creature two vehicles long inside your body? It’s no surprise he was having such severe symptoms. What’s even more baffling is how he got such a large tapeworm in the first place. In this instance, the man went on a raw beef diet, and the beef must have contained a tapeworm.

While the idea of a 20-foot tapeworm could make your skin crawl, this kind of infection is not as rare as you may believe. Tapeworms can infect anyone, anywhere in the world. So, you must pay attention to the food and water you consume and seek medical help if you notice any unsettling symptoms.

But first, let’s return to the man in China and see what happened next.

Initial Symptoms and Medical Consultation

Raw Beef Diet Results in 20-Foot Tapeworm
Image of Tapeworm. Image credit: New England Journal of Medicine

Upon medical examination, doctors discovered a tapeworm measuring an astounding 20 feet in length. The tapeworm was the source of the man’s discomfort and had been growing inside him for two years.

The man was shocked to discover that he had been cohabiting with a parasite for so long without realizing it.


It’s incredible that the tapeworm could grow within the man’s body for two years without his knowledge! What’s more astonishing is that he kept going to doctors for treatment for his persistent stomach pain and anemia. Still, none of them could pinpoint the source of his problems. It is proof of these parasites’ resilience and ability to remain undetected inside their hosts.

Tapeworm in human intestine
Tapeworm in human intestine.(Representational)

So, he thought it was just a stomach bug that would disappear. He tried to manage these symptoms using over-the-counter medications, which only provided temporary relief. He eventually sought medical attention, hoping that a doctor could assist him in getting to the bottom of the issue, as we all do.

He returned to the doctor in the spring of 2015 and reported stomach pain, vomiting, a lack of appetite, weakness, and weight loss.

Luckily, these symptoms had only begun three days earlier, but the man had already lost 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 lbs.).

According to Li, a medical expert, the man had brought a fragment of a parasite with him that he had found in his stool and revealed that he liked to eat raw beef.

During his consultation, he described his symptoms to the doctor, who decided to conduct a thorough medical examination. The examination included blood tests, stool samples, and imaging tests. It was during one of these tests that the doctor discovered a tapeworm.


The Extraction Process and Medical Analysis: Not an Easy Feat

Taenia saginata
Taenia saginata

It was not easy to get rid of the tapeworm. Doctors had to use a combination of medications and surgical techniques to remove the parasite from the man’s body. As you may have guessed, he had to be sedated for most of these drawn-out procedures.

When he eventually opened his eyes, he was glad to learn that the tapeworm had been successfully extracted. Doctors thoroughly examined the patient after the extraction to determine the infection’s kind and level of severity.

They discovered that the tapeworm was a species known as Taenia saginata, commonly found in beef. The man had likely become infected after consuming undercooked beef.

Proglottid of tapeworm Taenia saginata
Presented in this image is a proglottid, a specific segment of a tapeworm that typically houses eggs. As part of the tapeworm’s life cycle, these proglottids might be excreted in human feces to promote reproduction. The eggs contained within this proglottid are discernible.

Tapeworms had likely been feeding on the nutrients in his intestines, which explained his recurring symptoms and weakness.


“Tapeworm infections are quite rare in Central China where this case took place,” Jian Li, of the Department of Infectious Diseases at Renmin Hospital in Shiyan, China, who diagnosed the man and co-authored the case report, confirmed.

The Role of Diet and Food Safety in Tapeworm Infections

Raw beef
Raw beef

Tapeworm infections are a common health concern that can be prevented with proper education, awareness, and safe food-handling practices. You can contract a tapeworm infection by consuming contaminated meats or fish. This will result in symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, and diarrhea.

Mainly, raw or undercooked meats are to blame here. Just like the Chinese man had to suffer owing to his raw-beef diet practice. Here is how the whole process works: When the meats are not cooked properly, they can contain tapeworm larvae. When you consume them, the larvae can develop into adult tapeworms in the human intestine.


But it’s not just meat that can be a source of tapeworm infections. Contaminated water sources can also lead to tapeworm infections. This is because tapeworm eggs can be present in water contaminated with human or animal feces. Consuming this contaminated water or eating food washed with it can lead to infection.

Let’s say you do not carefully wash your hands before touching food. In this case, there’s a risk of transferring tapeworm eggs from your hands to the food you’re preparing.

Tapeworm infections pose a significant public health hazard in Latin America, with prevalence rates ranging from 10% to 35%.

Furthermore, tapeworm infections account for approximately 1,000 hospitalizations annually in the United States. Be aware of these sources and take steps to avoid them, such as only consuming fully cooked meats and avoiding drinking untreated water from lakes or streams.


Defend Your Health Against Tapeworms

Tapeworm in human intestine
Tapeworm in human intestine

Tapeworms are common but curable. The most commonly used tapeworm medicine is praziquantel (Biltricide), taken orally. When you take medication, it paralyzes the tapeworm. This will further cause them to relinquish their grip on the intestines, dissolve, and flow out of the body through bowel movements.

Following treatment, your stool samples should be tested for one and three months to ensure that the tapeworms have been entirely removed. Fortunately, adequate tapeworm treatment is effective for more than 95% of people. If there are any serious complications from the tapeworm infection, even then, you don’t have to worry because they can also be treated with medications.


More Mind-Boggling and Peculiar Cases

1  Disorder Misdiagnosed as Chest Pain in a Woman

 esophagus twisting into a corkscrew
The image shows an 87-year-old woman’s esophagus twisting into a corkscrew shape during swallowing. Image credit: New England Journal of Medicine 

A Swiss woman in her late 80s suffered from agonizing chest pains, and the diagnosis was a spiraling esophagus. The condition is uncommon but not unheard of. It usually affects those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

The elderly woman had been experiencing painful spasms after meals and lost over 10 pounds, warning signs of the unusual condition. Medical imaging identified the twisted esophagus, which had formed a shape resembling a spiral staircase. Although there is no cure, treatments for acid reflux may help manage symptoms. Experts have noted a correlation between GERD and esophageal disorder.


2 The Miraculous Recovery of a Teen Pinned Under a Car

Juan Spence
Hale and healthy Juan Spence. Image credit:

A teenage boy in Williamsburg, Virginia, miraculously escaped death in a car crash. Can you guess what transpired? He was crushed under a car!

Juan Spence had part of his skull removed due to swelling and was on life support with a 5% chance of survival. However, his parents, Elizabeth and Alex Butler, who are ministers, maintained faith and prayed for their son’s recovery.

After a year of physical therapy and mental healing, Juan could walk, talk, and even work out at a gym. Basically, he can do everything under the sun! Juan believes God fought for him, and the crash renewed his faith. Despite the challenges, he is one of the lucky survivors of such a traumatic accident.

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Picture Chinese Man Discovers 20-Foot Tapeworm After Years of Consuming Raw Beef
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