(Daily Mail): A British man almost died after a parasite crawled into his manhood and laid eggs in his vital organs during a ‘dream holiday’ to Africa.
James Michael, from Kensington, London, said he was left ‘debilitated’ and unable to sleep from the pain of the bugs attacking his body.
The 32-year-old was on a canoeing trip ‘of a lifetime’ with friends to South East Africa, travelling from Zambia to Zimbabwe.
They made a five-day stopover in Malawi, where they swam on Lake Malawi, before flying back to the UK.
But unbeknownst to James, a parasitic flatworms called schistosomes had crawled inside his penis and laid eggs in his vital organs.
‘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,’ James told the Sun.
Over a year after his trip in August 2017, James noticed 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.
Doctors from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases eventually told James he had contracted schistosomiasis – also known as bilharzia – a parasitic worm that had crawled up his penis and laid eggs in his body.
James was proscribed 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 added.
‘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.’
James first spent three months in hospital using a wheelchair, before progressing to a wheelchair as he recovered. He also had to use a catheter as he couldn’t go to toilet properly.
He also had a breakout of extreme acne on his back and arms caused by steroids, as well as diarrhoea.
He said: ‘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.
‘This has been horrendous. It’s felt like a never-ending mountain I’ve had to climb.’