I entered my office, my sanctuary, to write on a totally different topic today. However, before beginning, I checked my Face Book page. My veterinary friend, Jodi, posted one of those stranger-than-fiction occurrences.
My mind frantically thought of all the stories a writer could create from this one stranger than fiction nonfiction. I decided to do a blog post first.
“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” — Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World
After weeks of pain, doctors sent a Australian woman to the hospital for brain surgery. She’d experienced everything from diarrhea to a constant dry cough to fever and night sweats. Symptoms culminated in depression and forgetfulness.
Sounds like COVID, but no. An MRI scan showed an alien entity living in the right frontal lobe of the woman’s brain. Neurosurgeon Dr. Hari Priya Bandi removed the thing with her forceps and found a wriggling parasitic worm on the end.
Molecular tests revealed it to be a roundworm (Ophidascaris robertsi) found in pythons. The woman lived near a lake in New South Wales. The lake is home to carpet pythons. She foraged for her Warrigal greens, also known as New Zealand spinach, in this area. Cooked them (or maybe not) and ate them.
The carpet python discards its parasitic eggs in its feces, which then spreads through the vegetation small mammals and marsupials—and humans—eat. In turn, pythons eat the infected animals (hopefully not humans). Thereby, the parasite uses the python as a host and the cycle is completed. (So much for organic produce vs the alternatives.)
This parasitic roundworm is like the Centaurian slug introduced in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Nero, the Romulan criminal, forces Captain Pike to swallow the slug.
Nero uses this form of torture to obtain Starfleet intel. Like the python roundworm, it goes for the brain. Unlike the roundworm, once attached to the brain stem, it releases a toxin. This toxin is similar to a truth serum and forces its host to tell the truth.
Complex entertainment media ranks the 1978 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, among one of the best Science Fiction movies of all times.
Again, we see fiction borrowing scenarios from real life. A parasitic alien race resembling thread like worms, invades earth and replicates humans. The pop-culture cult film refers to the duplicates as pod people. These invaders change their hosts into cold and distant replicas to the extent their families don’t recognize them.
Similarly, the python roundworm made its host depressed and forgetful.
The World Health Organization, WHO, estimates 24% of the human population is infected with soil-infected worms. Much of this infestation exists in underdeveloped countries with poor sanitation.
But the US also has critters that make a home in us. Often we are unaware. As many as 100 different species of parasites can live in the human body.
I wonder how many of these parasites originated some place other than earth? That is, if you believe in that sort of thing.