Tapeworms found in brain of US man who ate undercooked pork


A 52-year-old man in the United States (US), who complained of frequent migraines, has been found to have tapeworm larvae in his brain.

According to a news report from the BBC, the incident came to light when the man’s doctors recommended a detailed medical diagnosis after his usual migraines turned worse and his regular pills stopped working.

The diagnosis found tapeworm larval cysts in his brain– which cause cysticercosis.

Thankfully, the patient responded to anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory treatment and has made a full recovery.

Cysticercosis is a type of infection caused by the larvae of the parasite Taenia solium (T.solium), also known as pork tapeworm, which can lead to cysts (cysticerci) developing in the brain.

The BBC cited medical experts’ advice which highlighted that the condition is mainly caused by “improper handwashing”.

The doctors believe that the man, who got a tapeworm from eating underdone pork, infected himself.

Someone with a tapeworm can infect themselves with tapeworm eggs – a process known as autoinfection – which can pass out of the body as waste and infect others in the same home, the experts said.

Eating undercooked pork cannot directly give a person cysticercosis.

‘Poor handwashing’

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tapeworm larvae “get into tissues such as muscle and brain, and form cysts. When cysts are found in the brain, the condition is called neurocysticercosis”.

“People get cysticercosis when they swallow T.solium eggs that are passed in the feces of a human with a tapeworm,” BBC quoted the CDC as saying in the matter.

Tapeworm eggs are spread “through food, water, or surfaces contaminated with faeces”.

“Humans swallow the eggs when they eat contaminated food or put contaminated fingers in their mouth,” it said.

“Someone with a tapeworm can infect him or herself [autoinfection]” and other members of the family,” it added

Experts say eating undercooked pork cannot give you cysticercosis – nor is the condition common in the US, or the UK, where pig meat undergoes rigorous testing.

Published By:

Sudeep Lavania

Published On:

Mar 15, 2024



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