TAMPA, Fla. — It is like something out of a science-fiction movie — a brain-eating parasitic tapeworm living in your eye. Unfortunately for Sam Cordero, it wasn’t a movie and the race was on to surgically remove it from his eye.

Taenia Solium, more commonly called a pork tapeworm, passes to humans from consuming raw pork or through contact with fecal matter. Properly cooked pork, and good hygiene when handling food, kill the parasite.

In some extremely rare cases the worm will travel through your intestines, into your bloodstream and embed itself in your brain or eye ball.

Cordero’s parasite set up shop in the vitreous chamber of his eye, that is a fluid filled area behind Cordero’s lens and between his cornea.

“He’s got a window of opportunity where he can end up with 20/20 vision and parasite free,” Dr. Don Perez of the Perez Eye Center said.

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Perez said this is the second case he’s diagnosed and treated of the pork tapeworm. He added that there have only been 20 worldwide cases since researchers began tracking the worm.

“What is scary, it gravitates toward the brain,” Perez said.

Perez said they have to remove the parasite before it dies. If it dies in the eye the inflammation could cause Cordero to go blind. If it doesn’t die and releases more larvae the parasite could travel to Cordero’s brain.

“If he was in the brain he would present seizures,” Perez said explaining that the worm eats the brain making tiny holes that make the brain look like Swiss cheese. 

“I believe and suspect it came from undercooked pork we ordered around Christmas holidays and that’s how I believe I got it,” Cordero said. “I see a little black dot and it’s only on the left eye.