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20-foot tapeworm found inside man’s intestines

Squeamish readers be warned: The South China Morning Post reports a Chinese man was recently found to have a 20-foot tapeworm living inside his intestines. According to Live Science, the 38-year-old man went to the doctor last spring after losing up to 22 pounds over the course of three days.

He was also experiencing stomach pain, weakness, and vomiting, reports a case study published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine. According to the Morning Post, doctors saw tapeworm eggs in his stool and noted that he had been seen by other doctors for stomach pain and chronic anemia over the prior two years.

He was given medication and excreted the giant parasite a few hours later, according to the case study. The tapeworm turned out to be a Taenia saginata—or beef tapeworm—which can be contracted by eating raw beef, something the man had been doing for years, the Morning Post reports.


According to Live Science, the poor soul had likely been serving as a tapeworm condo for at least two years. Beef tapeworms can live in humans for years, causing little more than some nausea after meals, while growing to up to 33 feet.

It was central China’s first tapeworm case in three decades. Since excreting the tapeworm, the man has made a full recovery, the Morning Post reports. But his doctor, Jian Li, tells Live Science he’s probably done eating raw beef.

“It was physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting for him,” Li says. (A man was killed by his tapeworm’s cancer.)

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