MALAWI – A man almost died after a parasite crawled up his penis and laid eggs inside his body after he went for a swim in Lake Malawi.
James Michael (32) from London in the UK, was on a holiday of a lifetime with friends to South East Africa, travelling from Zambia to Zimbabwe before making a stopover in Malawi.
James and his pals spent five days in Malawi, where they swam and canoed every day on Lake Malawi before flying back to England.
It was only when the 32-year-old had returned to the UK that he started to experience a loss of feeling in his legs and struggled to complete tasks like walking up stairs.
Neurologists told him his immune system was attacking his spine, and put him on a six-month course of steroids, although the doctors still didn’t know what had actually caused this.
Eventually, doctors from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases told James he had contracted schistosomiasis – a parasitic worm that had crawled up his penis and laid eggs in his body.
James was given medication called praziquantel that kills the worms.
“That killed the infection but I was left basically debilitated. They told me there was a 30 per cent chance I’d make a full recovery – 10 years from now,” he said.
“It was a horrible feeling – I felt completely helpless, and the odds weren’t good. I couldn’t wish what I’ve been through on anybody.”
The 32-year-old spent three months recovering in hospital and described the ordeal as horrendous.
“When I look back at photos from my time in Africa, it’s weird to think that’s where the parasite crawled up my penis,” he said.
“It wasn’t exactly how I imagined the trip of a lifetime to go … the whole experience was surreal and strange.”