A large parasitic worm found in the urinary system may have contributed to the death of an elderly woman in the Czech Republic, according to a AsiaOne report today.

Dioctophyme renale LifeCycle/CDC
Dioctophyme renale LifeCycle/CDC

According to the report, the 76-year-old woman went to the doctor with severe abdominal pain as was later referred to the hospital for hematuria.

Doctors at the hospital initially attributed it to a blood clot, but later found a 3.9 inch parasitic worm (see picture HERE) living in one of her kidneys. A second worm was found in her bladder.

The worms were identified as kidney worms, a parasitic infection of dogs and minks. It is a rare thing in humans.

The Giant Kidney worm, aka Dioctophyme renale, is the largest known nematode with worldwide distribution, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.

The mink is the definitive host for the “blood red” parasite, while dogs and humans can also become infected.

The definitive host contracts the parasite by ingesting encysted larvae in raw fish (eg, pike, bullhead) or frogs, or by ingesting an infected annelid worm. The larvae penetrate the bowel wall and migrate first to the liver and later to the kidneys. In dogs, the parasite often fails to reach the kidneys and may be found free in the abdominal cavity. Kidney worms grow larger in dogs than in mink, reaching up to 103 cm.

Preventing ingestion of raw fish or other aquatic organisms is recommended in areas where the parasite is known to infect wild animals.