A British man neatly died after a parasite crawled up his penis and laid eggs in his body.

The parasite crawled inside his body when the man went for a swim in Lake Malawi, in Southeast Africa.

The man says he was on the "holiday of a lifetime" with friends when he nearly died.

James Michael, from London, contracted schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) following that swim.


"When I look back at photos from my time in Africa, it's weird to think that's where the parasite crawled up my penis," he said, quoted by The Sun.

"It wasn't exactly how I imagined the trip of a lifetime to go ... the whole experience was surreal and strange."

The 32-year-old contracted the disease while on holiday with his friends in August 2017.

On his east African holiday, the man swam and canoed on Lake Malawi almost every day.

It was when he returned to London that symptoms began.

A couple of months after his holiday, Michael says he began losing feeling in both legs.

A keen cyclist, he blamed it on his hobby at first.

However, as symptoms worsened and he found himself struggling to even walk up a flight of stairs, he went to hospital.


He was sent home with antibiotics but continued getting worse so, a week later, he returned to hospital.

"I explained to them that something serious was going on," he said.

"I went to the neurology department and they did blood tests to see what was up. They determined quite quickly that my immune system was attacking my spine, leading to the loss of control of my legs.

"I was put on a six-month course of steroids to counter this ... but they didn't actually know what had caused this."

Doctors from the Hospital for Tropical Diseases found that a parasitic worm had crawled up his penis and laid eggs inside his body.

The parasitic worms move through the blood to areas of the body such as the liver and the bowels. A few weeks after, they begin laying eggs.

The man was prescribed medication to try to kill the eggs.

"That killed the infection but I was left basically debilitated. They told me there was a 30 per cent chance I'd make a full recovery – 10 years from now.

"It was a horrible feeling, I felt completely helpless, and the odds weren't good. I couldn't wish what I've been through on anybody."

He spent three months in a wheelchair in hospital and then four months on crutches.

"Early in my recovery, sometime in January, I had a really terrible acne outbreak that went all down my back and down my arms.

"I couldn't sleep for a month because lying 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 wasn't able to exercise much because of the infection, which was hard.

"In January, I couldn't use the toilet normally so had to use a catheter. That was quite embarrassing for me."

He was so weak his girlfriend couldn't even hug him as it was too painful.

"The pain has been like nothing I've ever known," he said.