If you consume this common food your brain could be invaded by worms. This food once you consume it the worms could move through the body, but mainly they invade the brain. This is considered to be the classic parasite which is very dangerous and harmful.
According to Dr. EffrossyniGkrania-Klotsas, while he was examining the head of British man he found tapeworm in his brain. He has never seen tapeworm before in the UK.
The Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge has established a team of doctors that was supposed to treat a patient with severe headache. The team managed to treat the symptoms that the patient was reporting, but after short period of time he has returned again. This patient reported that meanwhile he was in China, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea for the past few months. The doctors immediately suspected that he might be having parasites called SpirometraErinaceieuropaei.
Dr. Gkrania-Klotsas reported: “When the patient returned, he had all new signs”. After he has returned, the worm was actually pressing a part from his brain, and as a result of that he started feeling weakness in the legs. Often he experienced seizures as well. These symptoms have been immediately linked to infection called Sparganosis. Once the doctors have set the proper diagnose it required surgically to remove the worm because there is no drug that could effectively treat the infection.
There are reports of 300 infections of the Spirometra tapeworm that has been recorder since 1953. These infections are actually more common in nations that are undereducated in regards to this infection, mainly in Asia.
The Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge conducted a research in which Dr. Hayley Bennett has concluded “These worms are some of the most mysterious worms we have researched“.
The Spirometra tapeworm often occur in the intestines of dogs and cats, but these animals could also shed the worm’s eggs through their feces. These eggs could actually enter and infect the water which means that you could be infected too. Also, these tapeworm eggs can stay in the water for longer period of time, and it could end up in snakes and frogs.
On the other hand, these infected animals could transfer the larvae to people. Dr. Gkrania-Klotsas says that the patient had drank water without knowing that the lake where he was swimming was contaminated.
Dr. Bennett says: “The larvae can encyst in the brain or any other place in the body”. The side effects of these cysts could lead to paralysis, damage of the tissue, loss of vision, or in worst case scenario it could cause death. He has been trying to better understand the cycle of these worm’s genes in order to find proper treatment and to be easily diagnosed.
By creating a drug that will be solely against worms is not very economically viable, especially due to the fact that it is rare infection. Instead, they are trying to find alternative in drugs that already exist that will be also effective in treatment of this infection.
The team of doctors have extracted samples of the worm from the patient in order to use it as test for future possible drugs against it. Also, their idea is to identify exceptionally big genes and genome in order to develop a diagnostic test.
Tapeworm could be discovered by different forms, but mainly the brain is contaminated by 3 types of tapeworm. Dr. Helena Helmby says “It’s mainly the pork tapeworm that’s the main brain“.
People could be infected by these two ways:
- If you consume undercooked pork you could get infected by taenia, which is the type of worm that lives in the intestine
- You could get infected by larval type by getting in contact with feces of infected human or pig. This type of infection leads to neurocysticercosis in case the larval worm gets in the nervous system.
In regards to neruocysticercosis infection, Helmby has stated: “In fact, you can actually infect yourself,” by keeping poor hygiene, such as failing to wash your hands. Also if you consume food that is contaminated with eggs of an adult worm that actually lives in your intestines.
The main causes and concerns
In order to treat Spirometra you will need to undergo surgery, but in Cambridge, Dr. Bennet has found drugs that could actually treat these infections. It is called praziqantil which has been found to be very effective. The main use of these drugs is for schistosomiasis or better called snail fever. Also, there are some other cancer drugs that could be identified as potential treatments. For example, treatments with anthelmintic drugs are directly targeting the worm.
Due to the fast developing process of global food trade, the risk of ingesting contaminated products gradually increases. As a result of this we need to be more careful in inspecting the food that we are consuming.
They also suggest that people should be aware of these contaminants especially when they are traveling. In fact, the number of infections could be controlled if there are healthy teams that are going to do the regular check-ups and warnings for the people.
Dr. Helmby adds: “The challenge at the moment is to be able to treat these infections.” The main challenge remains to unveil the secrets of the mysterious parasites.