RFK Jr. Says A Worm Ate Part of His Brain and Then Died

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 70, who likes to portray himself as the youthful, athletic, and healthy opponent of President Biden and Donald Trump, said in a 2012 deposition that a dark spot on his brain scans was a dead worm.

The doctor believed that the abnormality seen on his scans “was caused by a worm that got into my brain and ate a portion of it and then died,” Mr. Kennedy said in the deposition.

The story Kennedy told the New York Times was from an experience in 2010 when he was suffering from memory loss and mental fogginess so severe that he consulted several neurologists, some of whom had dealt with his Uncle Edward who had died of brain cancer.

Several neurologists noticed a dark spot on his brain scans and thought it was a tumor. He was scheduled for surgery with the same doctor who treated Uncle Edward when another neurologist called him with a different opinion — that the dark spot was a dead parasite.

Kennedy said that he did not know the type of parasite or where he might have contracted it, though he suspected it might have been during a trip through South Asia.

Kennedy concluded in the Times interview that the worm required no treatment and that he had no aftereffects.

Several infectious disease experts and neurosurgeons told the Times that they believed it was likely a pork tapeworm larva.

Dr. Clinton White, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, said microscopic tapeworm eggs are sticky and easily transferred from one person to another. Once hatched, the larvae can travel in the bloodstream, he said, “and end up in all kinds of tissues.”

Dr. White said it is unlikely that a parasite would eat a part of the brain, and that some tapeworms can live for years in a human brain without causing any problems. When they start to die, they can cause inflammation which may lead to seizures, headaches and dizziness.

Scott Gardner, curator of the Manter Laboratory for Parasitology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said that once any worm is in a brain, cells calcify around it, leaving a “tumor” that doesn’t go away.

Gardner said it was more likely that the memory loss Kennedy suffered was caused by another condition he suffered at the time, mercury poisoning.

Kennedy had been consuming a diet heavy on tuna and perch, both known to have elevated levels of mercury. Kennedy said his mercury levels were 10 times the recommended EPA level.

 “I loved tuna fish sandwiches. I ate them all the time,” he said.

Kennedy also was a few years into his crusade against thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative used in some vaccines. 

This information was gleaned from a 2012 deposition, which Kennedy gave during divorce proceedings from his second wife, Mary.

New York Times, Daily Beast