Part horror movie, part medical detective story, "Monsters Inside Me'' depicts what happens when people fall prey to an infection from a parasite, those nasty microscopic creatures found in water, soil and even in the air. Victims' stories are retold, including how doctors and scientists attempt to unravel each case before it's too late. Biologist Dan Riskin, assisted by doctors and experts who witnessed each case, leads the scientific discussion about each parasite.
These killers lie dormant, waiting for the right time to strike. Eleven-month-old Garrett Richardson ingests the eggs of a worm, and within days the creature travels to his brain and goes about feeding on its tissue. A Vietnam veteran survived the enemy attacks on the front lines, but back at home — unknown to him — a killer is stealthily working its way through his body, laying waste to his organs and lymph system. By the time the medical evidence reveals the source many years later, the killer is long gone. And John Figge and many of his family members live for six years with unwanted hitchhikers from Africa traveling around in their bodies. Only when one of these creatures begins to attack John's brain are they discovered. Can the family get rid of these deadly parasites before the damage is critical? These are all stealthy predators that get inside their hosts, yet work on very different timetables. Dangerous and often hard to detect, this is the story of the war on sleeper cell parasites.
Perfecting the art of reproduction have made parasites the most successful life form on the planet. There are some who are violent, manipulative and have taken sex to the extreme. These parasites are sex maniacs. A New Jersey woman finds her apartment infested with one of the most ubiquitous parasites on earth — bed bugs. Part of the reason for their success is the males' aggressive approach to sex, a method known as "traumatic insemination." A cyclist from Colorado discovers that the insect bites on his head are from botflies. In Oklahoma, a chemical sprayer's cough turns out to be the result of parasitic worms that multiply in the human lung.
Across the planet, a battle is raging, between parasites and their hosts. There is hardly an organism on this planet that doesn't have parasites that are trying to get at it. Some parasites destroy their hosts with terrifying speed, while others have a more cunning strategy: they keep their host alive for as long as possible. They lurk inside the body and steal their host's nutrients. Some of these parasites are almost impossible to kill. They can evade the immune systems. They can hide in the darkest recesses of the body, and they can survive the most powerful drugs. Once they strike, their victims are condemned to a life sentence of living with the enemy inside them. In Virginia a young woman is attacked by an invincible brain-eating monster that threatens to take her life. A Midwestern farmer does battle with a beast that cannot be killed and a New Yorker is infected with the deadliest parasite on the planet. Three parasites that are almost impossible to destroy; three victims, fighting for their lives. If doctors cannot cure them their only hope of survival is by living with the enemy inside them.
A 4-year-old boy literally drowns in his own mucus, being a victim of an outbreak of the Enterovirus D68 virus; a 7-year old scraps his knee on a rock at the beach, but when his father puts a liquid bandage on it, it causes it to swell the size of an orange - then, his mother squeezes the wound and finds a snail inside; a college student experiences loss of appetite, fatigue, fever, jaundice, and repetitive nightmares that turn into a reality from getting infected with malaria after returning from a trip to Ghana.
An athlete gets headaches, stomach pains, breathing difficulties, and a liver mass from entamoeba histolytica; a teenager develops a leg welt and then gets fatigue and red spots on his body over the course of several years. When the spots open, the doctors discover he has leprosy; a woman suffers severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, and seizures from E. rostratum.
During a fishing vacation, a soccer coach goes into septic shock from V. vulnificus necrotizing fasciitis; a 7-year-old girl gets facial tics, bouts of anxiety, and turns suicidal after a streptococcal brain infection; A makeup artist gets severe stomach cramps and watery diarrhea from Giardia lamblia.
A 2-year-old girl experiences severe pain and vomiting from a bark scorpion sting; a neuroscientist experiences multi-organ failure and nearly dies from leptospirosis; a 20-year-old woman suffers from severe vomiting and extreme headaches that turn out to be caused by balamuthia mandrillaris.
A young collage student contracts acanthamoeba keratitis from sleeping in her contact lenses; an infant becomes temporarily paralyzed and almost dies from accidental ingestion of soil that contained the most deadly toxin known to science, botulinum toxin; a new mother has extreme pain from a piece of gauze (surgical sponge) that was left inside her abdomen during a C-Section.
A California teenager is unable to breathe after contracting hantavirus pulmonary syndrome; a Hawaiian personal trainer suffers years of neuropathic pain from ciguatera poisoning; a Michigan health worker nearly dies from babesiosis.
A baby is having problems controlling the left side of her body, before doctors discover the right side of her brain is malformed; a PR executive suffers a mysterious ailment over the course of an entire year; seizures ruin a schoolteacher's Thanksgiving, and they worsen around Christmas.
A teenager turns feverish and fatigued when he gets a cut on his knee; a couple move into a new home to nasty rashes, breathing difficulties, and memory loss; something is destroying an 8-year-old's retinas.
A young girl is brought to the hospital with stabbing pains in her scalp; a mother's mysterious symptoms threaten to tear a family apart; a deadly invader turns a relaxing vacation into a nightmare.
A man falls comatose; a college student's deadly sore throat; a woman's bizarre symptoms confound experts.
A man experiences strange swelling around his eye; a young girl falls mysteriously ill; a bizarre set of symptoms leave a young woman on the edge of madness.
An infant falls mysteriously ill; a biology professor becomes an unexpected host; a family man is brought to the brink.
Doctors discover an invader in a young man's brain; a new mother is in critical condition; a young boy's illness defies antibiotics.
A toddler falls into a trance-like state; a strange condition strikes a boy; a woman's symptoms push her to madness.
A teenager develops mysterious blotchy sores; an athlete is struck down by a rare disease; a woman battles strange bouts of vomiting.
A man coughs up blood; a newlywed husband is felled by a rare disease; a father struggles with abdominal pain.
An infant is suddenly paralyzed; a young father grapples with a monster that threatens to blind him; a woman's excruciating pain confounds experts.
A dangerous parasite strikes a woman down; an infant suffers a mysterious illness; a fungus brings a man to the brink of death.
After a man hits his head, he's left fighting a one-on-a-million medical mystery; a boy's wounded knee becomes home to an uninvited guest; a man unwittingly feeds his own intended killer.
A strange growth develops on a man's wrist; a nurse finds twig-like pieces in her urine; a pregnant woman falls ill with flu-like symptoms.