An African migrant unknowingly brought with him a squiggly and painful piece of Sudan on his trip to Australia. The 38-year-old man, complaining of a large abscess on his foot, learned from doctors at St. Vincent’s Hospital he actually had a guinea worm living inside him for at least four years. The X-ray revealed two spaghetti-shaped pieces, each a few centimeters long, of the guinea worm in his ankle and foot, according to the case report published in the journal Pathology.

Dr. Johnathan Darby, an infectious diseases physician at St. Vincent’s Hospital, said the man sought help for a swollen foot that had been painful for about a year. It is suspected the man drank contaminated water infected with guinea worm lava, also known as Dracunculus medinensis, which can make its way inside the lower parts of the human body. Typically, patients do not show signs or symptoms until about one year after they become infected. Patients may develop a fever, swelling, and pain in the area, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a few days to hours before the worm comes out of the skin. Like in the Sudan man’s case, more than 90 percent of the worms come out of the legs and feet, but they can appear on other body parts, too.

"That whole process can take years. It can sit inside the human body alive for years or die, degenerate, and then cause problems in the area like it did for our patient," Darby told The Sydney Morning Herald. Darby and his medical staff believe the man brought it with him since he arrived in Australia four years ago. Guinea worm disease is still found in Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Chad, despite efforts to eliminate it.

People in these developing countries remove the guinea worm through unconventional methods, since there is no treatment for the disease. Typically, the live worms are delicately pulled from the exit wounds over days or weeks to make sure they don’t break and cause more harm. "If you google it, you'll find some fairly dramatic photos of people getting match sticks and twirling their worm out centimeter per day," Darby said, the Online Mirror reported.

A YouTube video by The Carter Center, "Eradicating Guinea Worm Disease: Taming the 'Fiery Serpent' (Carter Center)," captures the process in which people remove the guinea worm without surgery. The worms can grow up to 3-feet-long and result in painful blisters through which they exit the body slowly. Patients remove them carefully without bathing or stepping on drinking sources, since the worm will release hundreds of thousands of eggs, or larvae, into the water and continue the life cycle.

The Sudanese man has made a full recovery after having the worm removed via surgery.