Pet's Parasites Cause Woman's Paralysis
   2012-03-21 17:12:49    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Zhangjin

A woman walks with the aid of medical appliances in a hospital in this photo released on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. [Photo: Guangzhou Daily]

The condition of a 21-year-old woman surnamed Zhou, who was paralyzed after suffering from years of repeated cases of abnormally high fever, has been attributed to intimate contact with pets, the "New Express Daily" reported on Wednesday.

Zhou, from central China's Hubei province, suffered high fevers every half a year from the age of 14. Her right leg always ached before the fevers, and she also suffered from skin irritations. The fever usually lasted three to five days at a time and the symptoms would ease after taking medicine or receiving injections.

However, the symptoms became gradually more serious with age. Zhou experienced pain in her legs when she walked and the fever occurred more frequently. She was eventually paralyzed as a result during April last year.

The cause of Zhou's condition remained undiscovered until last August. Examinations revealed that Zhou's hipbone had been seriously damaged by parasites. The damage led to Zhou's walking difficulties.

Zhou was diagnosed with echinococcosis, or hydatid disease; a parasitic disease that affects both humans and mammals.

According to Zhou's mother, her daughter liked playing with cats and dogs and sleeping with them from an early age. Doctors believe that Zhou was infected with the disease due to close contact with her pets.

Zhou underwent an operation last month to install an artificial hip joint and has since been able to walk with the aid of medical appliances.

Li Songjian, the doctor in charge of Zhou's case, said hydatid disease develops slowly within the bones and that it takes about ten to twenty years for symptoms to first appear. Patients infected with the disease from childhood may experience severe problems when they become adults.

Although Zhou's case is rare, experts suggest that pets be quarantined and checked by vets regularly, especially within families with pregnant women or children. Pet owners should clean their pets frequently and avoid any overly intimate contact.

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