An Australian couple endured a health nightmare after tiny worms with teeth began eating through their bodies, the Herald Sun reported Tuesday citing details revealed in The Medical Journal of Australia.
The couple were believed to have become ill after eating a fish -- infected with the gnathostomiasis larvae -- which they caught on a camping holiday in Western Australia. It was the first time humans have been infected by the parasite in Australia.
The report said after the fish was caught in the Calder River near Derby, 1,485 miles north of Perth; the husband, 52, and wife, 50, pan-fried it over a campfire, but the "duration and thoroughness of cooking" was unclear.
Infectious disease physician Andrew Fuller, from Melbourne's Alfred Hospital, said the worms are 1-3 mm long and have "sharp little teeth and they can go anywhere they like in the body."
The worms can stay in a human for 15 years, leaving people chronically ill, working their way around the human body until they die or are killed by the immune system. They can make their way into the brain, other organs and the spinal cord.
The disease is endemic where foods such as freshwater fish, snakes, frogs, snails and fowl are consumed raw or undercooked, including Southeast Asia and Japan, the Journal article said.
While it did not specify when the case came to light, the article noted the male patient had not had a recurrence of symptoms for six years, nor the woman for five.