An artist’s parasitic worm infection has been immortalised in his work.
Ben Taylor, an Australian-born painter who now resides in the UK, was infected with Loa loa filariasis after a visit to rural Gabon, central Africa, in 2013.
Upon returning to Britain, he suffered a strange ‘muscle-snapping’ sensation in his forehead, followed by the emergence of random lumps on his face.
Over the subsequent 12 months he encountered other odd symptoms, such as joint pain, abscesses, gut issues, eye discomfort, fatigue and low mood.
Eyeful: Ben Taylor, an Australian artist, contracted Loa loa worms after visiting Africa in 2013
Bizarrely, he only decided to seek medical attention when he noticed a ‘curved line at the bottom of his eye… that wiggled’.
Upon diagnosis, doctors quickly removed an inch-long worm from the site and admitted him to the Tropical School of Medicine, where he remained for four days.
There, they also diagnosed him with two other parasites: hookworms and threadworms, which can be contracted via infected earth.
But it was before this grim manifestation – and follow-up treatment – that Taylor was compelled to capture his experience on canvas, before he knew of his infection.
‘For some reason, I just felt drawn to spend hour upon hour working on this painting with intricate wormlike patterns,’ he told Buzzfeed News.
Grim: Loa loa filariasis is passed on to humans through the repeated bites of deerflies
Art attack: Ben’s work has been used by the Centre for Disease Control for the cover of their August 2018 medical journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases
‘That painting seems to be influenced by the parasites I was carrying around inside me.’
Fittingly, the image – which he later shared online – was used by the Centre for Disease Control for the cover of their August 2018 medical journal, Emerging Infectious Diseases.
‘It’s a bit of a weird painting, not everyone’s cup of tea, but my goodness — medical people, they love it,’ said Taylor.
WHAT IS LOA LOA FILARIASIS?
Loiasis, AKA African eye worm, is caused by the parasitic worm
It is passed on to humans through the repeated bites of deerflies (also known as mango flies or mangrove flies) of the genus Chrysops.
The flies that pass on the parasite breed in certain rain forests of West and Central Africa. Infection with the parasite can also cause repeated episodes of itchy swellings of the body known as Calabar swellings.
There may be more than 29 million people who are at risk of getting loaisis in affected areas of Africa.
Source: Centre for Disease Control