The lead singer of Australian punk band Frenzel Rhomb has revealed he has had surgery to remove a pig tapeworm from his brain.
What’s more Jay Whalley is a vegetarian – something which has prompted a horrified chorus of WTFs from around the world.
It all began in January with the 40-year-old singer experiencing a series of seizures which led to the discovery of what doctors thought was a potentially cancerous brain tumour.
He wrote: “Valentine’s Day Brain Surgery. Sounds like a Ramones song. They gave me a general anaesthetic and cut a 10cm rectangle at the back of my skull, took out the offending alien and put the skull piece back. It was over in about three hours.”
When he came round, he was told the 1cm growth was not cancer – but it was an infection.
Later tests revealed it was neurocysticercosis – an infection caused by a pork tapeworm (cysticercosis) which had found its way into his brain.
Whalley recounted the subsequent conversation with his doctor: "A what tapeworm?"
"A pig "
"A pig?!? I'm fucking vegetarian! How did I get the egg from a fucking pig worm in my brain?!?"
In a nutshell it appears the parasite ended up in Whalley’s head after the eggs were transferred to him from the faeces of an infected person via ingestion – in this case en route a vegetarian burrito prepared by an infected chef who didn’t wash his hands properly.
The parasite is most commonly found in Mexico and large parts of Central America – and Whalley’s infection was traced back to a visit to the region four years ago.
The World Health Organisation reports: "Neurocysticercosis is considered to be a common infection of the human nervous system and is the most frequent preventable cause of epilepsy in the developing world. More than 80% of the world’s 50 million people who are affected by epilepsy live in developing countries," many of which are endemic of such infections.
However a recent report states "unprecedented progress" has been made in treating it, which is among 16 other "neglected" tropical diseases.
Whalley added: "Once in my stomach they never become tapeworms but they migrate into the muscle, most of the time causing no problem and you'll never know it's there, the only place you'll have problems is if they make it to your brain or eyes.
"Once in the brain the body reacts by sealing it in a kind of cocoon or cyst where it quite happily lived for 4 fucking years!
"It's only when it dies that the body has some kind of inflammatory response resulting in swelling which in turn lead to the seizures."
Whalley has apologised to fans after the incident forced the band to pull out of the Descendants tour and invited suggestions for what his alias on the group's next album should be, starting the ball rolling with:
Jay Edgar Hoove-er,
Good on you for having a sense of humour about it, Whalley and we're glad you're feeling better!