A young teenager from India has died after having eaten badly cooked pork. The infested animal, infected the boy’s nervous system with a deadly tapeworm parasite known as Taenia solium. Neurocysticercosisis a specific parasitic disease caused by Taenia solium found in infected pigs. If ingested by humans the parasite enter into the nervous system affecting the brain and causing epileptic type symptoms. This extreme neurocysticercosis incident was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine
Sore head and confusion
The young eighteen year old was taken to the emergency services in India with complaints of epileptic attacks, headaches, sore eyes and a painful groin and right testicle. The New England Journal of Medicine explains how the patient arrived at Accident and Emergency in a confused state.
Doctors decided to examine the patient’s brain using an MRI scan so they could better understand the illness that was affecting the young boy. The scan highlighted many well defined cysts throughout the cerebral cortex (left-hand photo), brain stem and cerebellum (right-hand photo). These cysts resemble a brain infected by neurocysticercosis.
Neurocysticercosis: an infectious parasitic disease
A serious parasitical infection, neurocysticercosis is when the muscular and skin tissues are infected by Taenia parasite or more commonly known as tapeworms.
A tapeworm infection is always very dangerous for humans but the seriousness of the situation only increases if the infection is near to your eyes or brain. If the parasite gets into a person’s nervous system, it is called human neurocysticercosis.
Eating badly cooked, contaminated pork is the main cause of this parasitical infection in humans. Pigs are infected with cysticercosis when they eat Taenia (tapeworm) eggs. If humans eat contaminated pork then they too will ingest the parasite’s eggs. After a while these eggs will turn into larvae which then nest in the body’s muscles.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, anti-parasitical treatments can often worsen the situation in extreme cases of contamination. Tapeworms and cysts near to a patients eye can also cause a serious inflammation which can often lead to a loss of eyesight.
The articles explains that “In this instance, no anti-parasitical medication was administered. Despite being treated with dexamethasone (an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive drug, ed.) And antiepileptic drugs, the patient died two weeks later.”