Teen Dies after Parasites from Under-Cooked Pork Invaded His Brain

Be aware of neurocysticercosis!

Neurocysticercosis is a condition that happens in the body when a parasitic larva, which is commonly found in under-cooked pork, builds-up in the body till it completely, invades the central nervous system, triggering seizures.

This parasitic infestation is caused by larval cysts of the pork tapeworm Taeniasolium and they can enter the brain thereby causing life-threatening seizures. This parasitic larvae invades the bodily tissue from the intestine, and then build ups in the central nervous system, muscles, skin and eyes.

People can get it by consuming under-cooked pork or by swallowing microscopic eggs passed in the feces of a person with an intestinal tapeworm. This happens if the person has not properly washed his hands after going to the toilet and thus contaminates surfaces or uncooked food.

According to WHO – The World Health Organization neurocysticercosis is one of the main causes for adult epilepsy all over the world.

The administrated treatment for this condition often involves the use of meds to lower the swelling in the brain and destroy the existent tapeworms.

This condition was fatal for an 18-year-old man from India who was brought to the nearby hospital after he lost consciousness following a seizure.

The examination, specifically the MRI brain scan showed that he had cysts throughout his brain as a result of neurocysticercosis. Doctors did their best to save this man, but the efforts were futile as he died two weeks later.

This case was reported by Dr Nishanth Dev in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr Nishanth Dev, of ESIC Medical College, Faridabad, in the north Indian state of Haryana, had been treating this patient so he had all the needed data regarding this specific case. Here it is how he reported the development of this case.

The man who experienced tonic-clonic seizures was rushed to ESIC Medical College. This happens when an electrical discharge affects the entire brain and that makes the patient to lose consciousness instantly.  The tonic-clonic seizures commonly last one-to-three minutes, but if they continue for more than 5 minutes or in quick succession, then the life of the patient is being threatened.

When this person arrived in the hospital he was confused which is usual behavior when a person has tonic-clonic seizures. Most of the patients with these seizures feel tired and disorientated for up to several days or even weeks after.

The physical examination of the patient showed swelling in his right eye and also tenderness in his right testicle. His parents confirmed that he had been complaining of pain in his groin for the past week.

The performed MRI scans revealed many cysts in his cerebral cortex, the outermost layer of the brain, accountable for the thinking process and as well as for processing information that have been collected through the five senses.

The cysts were also present in his cerebellum, the area at the back of the brain responsible for the coordination of voluntary movements such as balance, posture, and speech.

There were lesions present in the brain stem, the base of the brain, in charge of sending messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

The damage of the brain was so severe that the doctors declared neurocysticercosis. This has been confirmed by the performed serum tests that revealed a parasitic infection with T. solium.

For the treatment of this patient the doctors did not opt for the antiparasitic drugs as they worsen the inflammation in patients with cysts in their brain. Plus, they can cause cerebral edema, excessive water build-up in the brain, and thus triggering vision loss.

He was treated with the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone, commonly used for the treatment of conditions such as arthritis, allergies, and psoriasis. Doctors also gave him anti-epilepsy medications, but nothing was enough to save his life. Unfortunately, he died.

Prevention is the best cure 

Have in mind that neurocysticercosis can be prevented through proper hand washing; hence make sure always to wash your hands.