Man nearly dies after parasite crawls up penis and lays eggs while he swam in lake

Man nearly dies after parasite crawls up penis and lays eggs while he swam in lake

A British tourist has had an agonizing brush with death while on vacation, after a colony of parasitic worms crawled up his penis and laid their eggs inside of him while he was swimming.

James Michael, who hails from Kensington in London, ended up contracting schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) while swimming in Lake Malawi in Africa.

After returning to England in October 2018, following his trip, Michael began to lose feeling his legs. He initially attributed this to fatigue from cycling, but when his mobility was severely affected, he went to hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with the life-threatening condition.

The microscopic worms had swum up his urethra while he'd been swimming and then had swum through his bloodstream to his liver and bowels. After a few weeks, they had laid their eggs, which had hatched and caused severe issues with Michael's immune system, leaving him in excruciating pain.

Commenting on the horrific experience in a recent interview with British tabloid newspaper The Sun, Michael stated: "I went to the neurology department and they did blood tests to see what was up. They determined quite quickly that my immune system was attacking my spine, leading to the loss of control of my legs. I was put on a six-month course of steroids to counter this...but they didn't actually know what had caused this."

An image of Lake Malawi. Credit: PA Images

He continued: "The pain has been like nothing I've ever known. Early in my recovery, sometime in January, I had a really terrible acne outbreak that went all down my back and down my arms. I couldn't sleep for a month because lying on my back hurt. I couldn't really be under running water either, so I had to shower my front instead."

He added: "The loss of feeling and use of my legs affected every part of my life. I wasn't able to exercise much because of the infection, which was hard... It wasn't exactly how I imagined the trip of a lifetime to go ... It's felt like a never-ending mountain I've had to climb."

Thankfully, Michael is now on the mend again. But his frightening ordeal proves just how important it is to take care when swimming abroad...