Ancient Mummy Has Oldest Known Case Of Liver Parasites

An autopsy of a 17th century mummy has revealed earliest known instance of liver parasites in a human. The mummy was discovered in South Korea from the tomb of man named Jing Lee, who died at the age of 63 in 1642. That was time of Joseon Dynasty, during which bodies were mummified to preserve the body with possible details.

Team of researchers from Dankook University College of Medicine, passed the 375 years old body through the CT scanner after obtaining permission from the decedents of Jing Lee. Scanning of the internal organs revealed a large mass within the liver below the diaphragm.

An unusual lump was removed for detailed study and it was found, it contained large number of parasitic fluke eggs, the parasite was identified as  Paragonimus westermani. The fluke is usually carried by freshwater crustaceans, after entering body they penetrate through the intestinal wall and into the peritoneal cavity, from here fluke goes to the lungs or the liver, in Lee’s case it was liver.

It is most probable that Lee was suffering from hepatic paragonimiasis and he might have eaten raw shell fish on doctor’s advice. During those days it was believed drinking raw crayfish juice cures measles.

There is no proof available to say with surety that Lee suffered from measles. It is all speculative how he might have acquired parasitic infection.

Even now people get infected by P. westermani  after eating well cooked crab or shellfish.

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