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North Korean defector found to have 'enormous parasites' - BBC News
By Andreas Illmer
BBC News
59 minutes ago
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Image caption
Parasites like tapeworms (file pic) can live inside people's digestive tracts
A North Korean soldier who was shot while fleeing across the border has an extremely high level of parasites in his intestines, his doctors say.
The defector crossed the demilitarised zone on Monday, but was shot several times by North Korean border guards.
Doctors say the patient is stable - but "an enormous number" of worms in his body are contaminating his wounds and making his situation worse.
His condition is thought to give a rare insight into life in North Korea.
"I've never seen anything like this in my 20 years as a physician," South Korean doctor Lee Cook-jong told journalists, explaining that the longest worm removed from the patient's intestines was 27cm (11in) long.
How do you get a parasite?
Humans can get parasites through eating contaminated food, by being bitten by an insect or by the parasite entering through the skin.
In the case of the North Korean defector, the first case is most likely. Parasites which enter the body via contaminated food are often worms.
The North still uses human faeces as fertilisers. If these faeces are untreated and fertilise vegetables that are later eaten uncooked, the parasites get into the mouth and the intestines of the person.
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While some don't cause any severe symptoms, others can be life-threatening, explains Prof Peter Preiser from the School of Biological Sciences at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
"What they all do is take nutrients away from your body," he told the BBC. "So [even] if most of them might go unnoticed, they all indicate a poor health status. To put it simply: people who have parasites are not healthy."
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Britain's Forgotten Army - All 4 / Channel 4
About the programme

This documentary reveals the story of the 140,000 Chinese workers who came to Europe in 1917 and risked their lives for the Allied war effort but whose vital contribution was painted out of history

12 Nov, 7pm

Presenter: Karen Soo.
tv  asia  china  UK  history  documentary 
6 days ago by ndf

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