Man Suffered from Seizures Caused by Dead Tapeworm in Brain
A new case report reveals that after being admitted to a hospital due to inexplicable seizures, a man from Boston had a dead tapeworm in his brain for years. He fell out of his bed in the middle of the night having what seemed to be a seizure, as he was shaking and talking nonsense, which prompted his wife to call for help. The man was reported to be disoriented and refusing to enter the ambulance.
Once at the hospital, the 38-year-old man was given medication to control the seizures, and he underwent brain scans, among other tests, which revealed that his brain was swollen and had three lesions. He was diagnosed with neurocysticercosis, a parasitic infection that causes headaches, seizures, and even death.
This particular infection is carried by tapeworms, which can be ingested if someone eats undercooked or infected pork containing tapeworm eggs. These eggs further hatch into larvae and move around the body, forming cysts in the brain. If a person is infected, they will likely spread the worm if they don’t wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom. This increases the danger of contaminating food or other common surfaces where others can get in contact with the parasite and become infected.
Neurocysticercosis infects around 1,000 people in the US per year, but it’s dominant in developing countries where pigs aren’t held in enclosures and left to eat human feces. Once inside the host, pork tapeworms die within a decade, but even so, they continue causing inflammation and subsequently headaches and seizures.
There was an atypical case 20 years ago where doctors discovered dead and calcified parasites in a man who came to Boston from Guatemala. Although the infection ceased, the scarred areas of his brain caused him to have seizures. After receiving treatment, the man was released and monitored for the following three years, during which time the lesions in his brain went down, and the seizures stopped as well.
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