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This Woman Went Mega-Viral On TikTok For Sharing How She Contracted Worms From Eating Bagged Salads

What a journey.

Recently, this woman on TikTok went viral for sharing her nightmare-inducing horror story about getting worms (yes, you read that correctly) from eating pre-packaged salads.

@jquelly

#greenscreen THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T EAT THESE #salad #fyp #foryoupage #McDonaldsCCSing #tryingtohelp #dontdoit #partone

♬ original sound - Jacqui B

In both TikToks, Jacqui explains she was freaking out when she found worms in her stool. And to make matters worse, her insurance did not cover the antibiotics she needed to get rid of them, resulting in a hefty $3,000 bill for three pills.

@jquelly

#greenscreen THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T EAT THESE #salad #fyp #foryoupage #McDonaldsCCSing #tryingtohelp #dontdoit #parttwo

♬ original sound - Jacqui B

BuzzFeed spoke to Jacqui, who said she knew the worms had to have come from the bagged salad because she was struggling with an eating disorder at the time, and bagged salads were all she was eating.

@jquelly / Via tiktok.com

"I was active in my eating disorder at the time, so I was only eating them once, maybe twice, a day. That was the only thing in my fridge besides the food for my kids," Jacqui told BuzzFeed.

When Jaqui went to the doctor, he hadn't seen a case like hers before. "He didn’t even want to look at the pictures I had taken or the stool sample! It actually freaked him out a little! He immediately called in the infectious disease doctor to take a look and diagnose. Like I said in the video, the ID doctor was extremely excited about it. I live in Montana, where parasitic infections are rare to nonexistent so I think this was his weird version of Christmas morning!"

@jquelly / Via tiktok.com

"However, the anti-parasitic worked really fast. Within 2–3 days, I didn’t see any more worms in my stool. The stomach aches went away within that time as well. It took a couple of weeks for the anemia to go away though, so I was still tired through that phase."

BuzzFeed spoke to Dr. Supriya Rao, a board-certified physician specializing in internal medicine, gastroenterology, and obesity medicine, to learn more about how this could happen. "Along with hookworm and whipworm, Ascaris is known as a soil-transmitted helminth (worm) and comprises the vast majority of parasitic infections in the world," Dr. Rao explained. "It's not that common in the US but can definitely still be seen. In fact, I've seen a few during colonoscopy. But overall, this is a very rare occurrence and is not isolated to bagged produce."

"Ascaris live in the intestines and are transmitted via fecal-oral route," Dr. Rao continued. "Worm eggs can be deposited in the soil (ie: from people defecating outside, or if infected stool is used as fertilizer for plants) and people can ingest these eggs if they eat fruits or vegetables that are not correctly cleaned/peeled/cooked. In Jacqui's case, it's possible that the bagged salad was infected with eggs and if it wasn't washed, the eggs can persist and enter the body. In general, bagged produce should still be cleaned thoroughly if being used for a salad — even if it says that it was pre-washed. Cooking will also kill worm eggs."

"My doctor and the pharmacist were in constant communication with my insurance for the first day. My doctor even called them after-hours from home, and the pharmacist stayed late that night to try and help me get the medication I needed," Jacqui explained. "They were huge advocates for me. I was so severely anemic that I could hardly stay awake — was extremely weak and was having heart palpitations — so they did everything they could to try and get it covered. In the end, I had to pull from savings and borrow from family members. Insurance declined to cover it."

@jquelly / Via tiktok.com

"People who contract Ascaris may not have any symptoms at all, but may have some nonspecific symptoms like abdominal discomfort/pain, fatigue, cough, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea or poor appetite," Dr. Rao told BuzzFeed after hearing Jacqui's story. "It can also cause growth impairment or malnutrition in children. If the burden of worms is high in the intestines, they can form an intestinal blockage."

"The meaningful parts of my story are: wash your food, practice good hygiene, and pay attention to your body. My intention isn't to demonize this brand of salad for my one experience," Jacqui explained. "Don’t feel weird about communicating what health issues you’re having with your doctor. I think too often we stigmatize normal health concerns. We don’t want to talk about what’s normal with our bodies because we don’t want to be labeled as 'gross.' Taking away the stigma that surrounds normal bodily functions or experiences is really important to me."

Fiore26 / Getty Images

"I hope people can learn from my story that paying attention to your body, having an open line of communication with your doctor, and washing your produce is so important! Practice good hygiene by washing your hands and surfaces you’re prepping food on can save your life... and maybe just prep your own salads from now on. It’s cheaper (and fresher) anyways!"

A plate of salad
Laartist / Getty Images

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