April 16, 2024

Parasitic tapeworm larvae were found in a man’s brain after weeks of worsening migraines, which researchers believe were caused by his consumption of undercooked bacon.

In a report released last week, the American Journal of Case Reports documented an unidentified 52-year-old American man who experienced weekly migraines that did not respond to medication.

The man denied traveling to “high risk areas”. [for] food security and lived at home with his wife and cat in a modern house”, According to the report. Upon further questioning, the man revealed that he did have a preference for “lightly cooked, non-crispy bacon” which he had eaten for most of his life.

After a CT scan on the man, Florida researchers found numerous fluid-filled sacs, or cystic foci, in his brain. With no mass effects from a possible tumor growing on his brain or hydrocephalus, a build-up of fluid in brain cavities, researchers were suspicious of congenital neuroglial cysts.

After being admitted to the hospital, the man tested positive for cystic fibrosis antibodies. He was then diagnosed with neurocysticercosis, a preventable parasitic infection caused by larval systems of the pig tapeworm Taenia solium.

“This can only be speculated, but given our patient’s penchant for uncooked pork and benign exposure history, we favor that his cysticercosis was transmitted by autoinfection to improper hand washing after he himself contracted taeniasis from his eating habits,” researchers said. said. said.

The man was then prescribed anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic medication including dexamethasone, albendazole and praziquantel, and was successfully treated.

Researchers added: “The treatment of neurocysticercosis is controversial. Antiparasitic drugs such as praziquantel or albendazole have sufficient activity against Taenia solium, but there are concerns that most of the inflammation occurs when the cysts are killed, giving some clinicians pause when considering treatment. After a risk-benefit discussion, our patient finally decided to pursue definitive treatment with albendazole.”

Neurocysticercosis is contracted when a person ingests microscopic tapeworm eggs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if a person eats uncooked, contaminated pork and gets an intestinal tapeworm infection, the person passes the eggs in their feces. If they don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom, they can contaminate food or surfaces with feces that contain the eggs. These eggs can then be ingested by someone else if they consume contaminated food.

Once the eggs enter the body, they hatch and become larvae, which sometimes then implant themselves in the brain, which in turn causes neurocysticercosis. Symptoms of the disease can vary depending on the location of the lesions, the number of parasites and the host’s immune response, According to Medscape. Possible symptoms include epilepsy, headache and dizziness and stroke.

Although the disease occurs worldwide, the highest infection rates are found in areas of Latin America, Asia and Africa that have poor sanitation and free-range pigs with access to human feces, the CDC reports.

It adds that there are an estimated 1,000 new hospitalizations for neurocysticercosis in the US each year, with cases reported more frequently in New York, California, Texas, Oregon and Illinois. Currently, neurocysticercosis is considered a neglected parasitic infection by the CDC – a classification for a group of diseases that result in significant illness among those infected and that are often poorly understood by healthcare professionals.

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