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This Guy's Headache Turned Out to be a Deadly Worm Lodged in His Brain

If the doctors had waited another 30 minutes to perform emergency surgery, he probably would've died.
November 5, 2015, 1:14am
Photo via Flickr user Jim Fischer

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Sometimes a headache is more than just a headache. Sometimes a headache might even be a warning sign that a deadly worm is living inside of your brain. That was the case for Luis Ortiz, a 26-year-old student at Sacramento State, who first started experiencing frequent headaches back in August. He claims he "didn't think much of it" when they first started, but after one particular headache caused him to become disoriented and start vomiting in September, it became clear that this was not a garden-variety migraine.


According to a report in the Napa Valley Register, Ortiz's mom rushed him to the Queen of the Valley Medical Center's emergency department, in Napa, California, where his situation rapidly worsened, causing him to become comatose. After performing a series of tests and putting a drain directly into his brain to alleviate the pressure, the doctors found the source of the problem: a tapeworm larvae was lodged in his brain.

Fortunately for Ortiz, the doctors were able to successfully remove the worm after performing immediate surgery. Had they waited another 30 minutes, Ortiz's neurosurgeon Dr. Soren Singel said he would've died.

According to Dr. Singel, Ortiz probably ate something contaminated with the worm eggs, which introduced larvae into his intestines and later, into his brain.

Reflecting back on the situation, Ortiz said that he was shocked. "I just couldn't believe something like that would happen to me. I didn't know there was a parasite in my head trying to ruin my life."

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