A British man almost died after a parasite crawled up his penis and began laying eggs after bathing in Lake Malawi in southeastern Africa during a "lifestyle day" with friends.
James Michael, 32, contracted schistosomiasis – also known as biliary carcinoma – during his dream trip in Africa.
James, who lives in Kensington, London, said: "When I look back at pictures from my time in Africa, it's strange to think that this is where the parasite crept up my penis.
" It wasn't exactly how I imagined the journey of life to go … the whole experience was surreal and strange. "
The 32-year-old had visited Africa with three friends in August 201
The group swam and canoeed every day at Lake Malawi before flying back to the UK.
It was back in England that James's nightmare began.
In October last year, he began to notice a loss of sensation in both legs – but initially it lowered to fatigue from cycling.
But he controlled himself in hospitals when basic tasks such as climbing the stairs to his apartment became exhausting.
James received antibiotics and was sent home, but a week later he felt even worse and then returned to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.
PARASITE IN FRESHWATER SNAILS LIKELY CUSED MAN & # 39; S CALCIFIED BLADDER
"I explained to them that something serious was going on"
He said, "I explained to them that something serious was going on.
" I went to the neurology department and they did blood tests to see what was going on. They decided pretty quickly that my immune system was attacking my spine, leading to the loss of control of my legs.
"I was put on six months of steroids to counteract this … but they did not know what had caused this."
Doctors from the Tropical Disease Hospital eventually told James that a parasite mask had crept up his penis and laid eggs in the body.
One week before Christmas, he was diagnosed with schistosomiasis, an infection caused by a parasitic worm living in fresh water in tropical regions. It is usually found throughout Africa.
Once in the body, the worms move through the blood to areas such as the liver and intestine. After a few weeks, they start laying eggs.
Some eggs remain in the body and are attacked by the immune system. Leaving it untreated can have serious consequences.
James was prescribed a drug called prazikvantel that kills the worms.
He said: "It killed the infection but I was basically left. They told me there was a 30 percent chance that I would get a full recovery – ten years from now.
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"It was a horrible feeling – I felt completely helpless and the odds were not good. I couldn't wish for what I was running on . "
James spent a total of three months in the hospital with a wheelchair and then four months in crutches – until April this year.
He also had an outbreak of extreme acne on his back and arms caused by steroids, as well as diarrhea.
He said: "The pain has been like nothing I have 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.
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"I couldn't sleep for a month to lie on my back hurt. I couldn't really be under running water either, so I had to shower my front instead.
"The loss of feeling and use of my legs affected every part of my life. I couldn't train much because of the infection, which was severe.
This story was originally published by The Sun.