Cysticercosis

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Overview

Cysticercosis is caused by the encystment of the larvae of the tapeworm Taenia solium; it is the most common ocular platyhelminth infestation in humans. Pigs are the intermediate hosts and humans are the definitive hosts for T. solium. In cysticercosis, humans become the intermediate host by ingesting eggs of T. solium from contaminated pork meat, vegetables, polluted water, or other material contaminated with human feces. After penetrating the intestinal wall, the embryo invades the bloodstream and can disseminate to the skin, brain, eye, and other tissues. Human helminthiasis and porcine cysticercosis have been known as long as medical records have been recorded; in fact, they were noted in the Ebers Papyrus (ca. 1500 bc) in Egypt and in the writings of Hippocrates. T. solium has a worldwide distribution, with higher incidence in Mexico, Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and South America. Some risk factors for human infestation have been described: older age groups, absence of sanitary facilities, poor formal education, poverty, and the inability to recognize infected pork. The age incidence for ocular involvement is preferentially the first four decades of life. Earlier reports failed to reveal a sex predilection, but recently a male preponderance of 3:1 was reported in 44 Indian patients. Bilateral involvement has rarely been found. Neurocysticercosis and ocular cysticercosis seem to be more common in Latin America, whereas skin disease is relatively more common in India.


Symptoms

According to a reportTrusted Source from 2014, symptoms of neurocysticercosis depend on where the lesions form, the extent of the infection, and the person’s immune response.


Still, many people with neurocysticercosis have no symptoms. Other people may take months or years to start developing symptoms, according to 2017 treatment guidelines.


Cysts, called cysticerci, can develop in the muscles, eyes, brain, and spinal cord. The person’s symptoms can also depend on the location, size, number, and stage of these cysts.


Common symptoms and signs include:


seizures

chronic headaches

increased pressure in the brain

Seizures are the most commonTrusted Source symptom and are often the only indication of the disease. Recurring seizures affect 50–70% of people with neurocysticercosis.


Other symptoms can include:


neurological problemsTrusted Source that affect the function of the spinal cord, brain, or nerves

reduced abilityTrusted Source to think and remember

Neurocysticercosis can sometimes cause combinations of neurological issues or syndromes

Causes

Cysticercosis is an infection caused by the larvae of the parasite Taenia solium. This infection occurs after a person swallows tapeworm eggs. The larvae get into tissues such as muscle and brain, and form cysts there (these are called cysticerci).

Risk factors

Risk factors strongly associated with human cysticercosis included poor personal hygiene, being unable to recognize cysticerci-containing meat, poor pig-raising practices and a history of passing tapeworm proglottides.

Poor hygiene. Infrequent washing and bathing increases the risk of accidental transfer of contaminated matter to your mouth.

Exposure to livestock. ...

Traveling to developing countries. ...

Eating raw or undercooked meats. ...

Living in endemic areas.

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Complications

Neurocysticercosis can cause severe complications, primarily stroke, as well as death. Research suggests that 4–12% of people with the disease experience a stroke as a result.


Also, if surgery to remove the cysts is necessary, this increases the chance of additional infections.

Prevention

Wash your hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet, changing diapers, and before handling food.

Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection.

Wash and peel all raw vegetables and fruits before eating.