In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 28, 2019, an 18-year-old who presented in an emergency room at a hospital in India with seizures was diagnosed parasites in his brain.
Doctors S. Zafar Abbas and Nishanth Dev from the Faridabad’s ESIC Medical College and Hospital reported that the teenager presented to the emergency room with swelling over the right eye, and was having tonic-clonic seizures. These seizures in the past have been called “grand mal” seizures which makes the patient’s muscles stiffen and they often lose consciousness.
The parents reported their son said he had pain for a week in the right groin area. After an examination, it was found that the teenager was confused, and there was tenderness in his right testis.
An MRI was performed, and it was revealed that cysts had caused damage in the cerebral cortex and the brain stem and cerebellum.
The 18-year-old was diagnosed with neurocysticercosis which is a disease caused by a parasite in the brain. The individual swallows the eggs of a tapeworm that was passed by the feces of a person who had an intestinal tapeworm. The larvae of the tapeworm crawl out of their eggs and lodges into brain tissues and muscles forming cysts.
Medical personnel also discovered that the patient has cysts in his right testis and about his right eye. Due to the number of cysts and their locations, the doctors decided it was not advisable to treat their patient with an antiparasitic medication. This type of treatment could cause bleeding in the brain to worse, cause inflammation which could lead to vision loss.
It was decided to treat the tapeworm with Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory medication, and an antiepileptic drug.
The patient died two weeks later.
Cysticercosis occurs around the world, but the tapeworm infections occur primarily in rural areas of developing countries where there is poor sanitation and pigs are permitted to roam. The diseases are rare in countries with better sanitation practices, and pigs are not in contact with the feces of humans.
Written by Barbara Sobel
CNN: Teen dies of tapeworm egg infestation in brain
Eyewitness News: Indian teen dies of tapeworm egg infestation in brain
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Wearn’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License