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Tapeworms of the brain are the newest discovery of health risks we need to be aware of. New evidence shows that the tapeworm commonly found in the digestive tract, can actually live in the human brain. The actual chance of a brain tapeworms is higher than you think and can cause significant damage if untreated.
How does one come into contact brain tapeworms? They are larvae that work their way through your bloodstream to your brain, where they effectively dig in their heels and set up shop in the form of large white cysts. A single tapeworm can produce 50,000 eggs. In Latin America, it is estimated that 29 million people are infected with these pesky creatures. It’s difficult to track how many people are carrying tapeworms around inside their skulls. However, it is estimated by Dr. Theodore Nash that nearly 2,000 people in the United States are playing host to these parasites. Dr. Theodore Nash of the National Institute of Health in Maryland told Discover Magazine. “Minimally there are 5 million cases of epilepsy from neurocysticercosis (brain tapeworm). Nobody knows exactly how many people there are with neurocysticercosis in the United States,” Nash’s research shows that if a tapeworm end up in the brain, it can cause a cyst. The cyst then pushes against a region of the brain, disrupting its function. This can lead to hydrocephalus, water on the brain, a brain hernia causing stupor, coma, or death.
Cysticerocosis is an infection of bodily tissue after exposure to the pork tapeworm through contaminated food or water. The eggs of the tapeworm often move to the brain, causing cysts. Most commonly, the cysts can cause “headache, nausea, and vomiting and may be accompanied by altered mental status,” according to a case report by Andrew H. Kerstein and Andrew. D. Massey.
The new research has allowed doctors to learn how to treat tapeworms. Prevention comes at the animal level, vaccinating pigs so their own bodies destroy tapeworm eggs. People who are diagnosed with tapeworms can receive treatment that will kill any and all tapeworms in their system. The best form of prevention, though, is thoroughly cooking all pork products before ingesting them. Wash your hands has never become so important before especially after handling raw meat.