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HindustanTimes Sat,25 Oct 2014

Man gets brain infection from tapeworm-infested vegetables

Priyanka Vora, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, April 02, 2013
First Published: 01:23 IST(2/4/2013) | Last Updated: 01:25 IST(2/4/2013)

Salads may be healthy, but eating improperly washed raw vegetables could land you in the hospital.

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A 34-year-old defence personnel is undergoing treatment at a Colaba hospital after being diagnosed with brain inflammation caused by a tapeworm that probably entered his body after he ate infected vegetables.

Known as neurocysticercosis (NCC), the ailment is caused by a parasitic infection that affects the nervous system. Its symptoms include convulsions, severe headaches and swelling of the brain.

The patient may ingest the tapeworm through improperly washed raw vegetables or undercooked pork infected with the worm.

The Colaba patient was shifted to INHS Asvini Hospital from an army hospital in Jamnagar, Gujarat, two weeks ago. “He came with complains of severe headache.

"After checking for various ailments, the MRI revealed that his brain had inflammation because of the parasitic infection,” a surgeon said.

Doctors also said that fortunately, the infection had not caused any growth in the patient’s brain thus avoiding the need for  surgical intervention.

The patient has been on medication to reduce the inflammation. “In this condition there is always the danger of damage to the optic nerve (responsible for vision) and the spinal cord. Luckily this patient did not have these complications,” the surgeon added.

Most tertiary care hospitals witness at least five to six cases of this parasitic infection annually. In this case, since the patient had not reported eating pork, doctors concluded that the infection was spread through infected vegetables.

“There are a large number of cases which go unreported as they are undetected.  Not all patients have the symptoms as the infection tends to die on its own,” said Dr Keki Turel, neurosurgeon, Bombay Hospital.

Turel recalled a case where a couple had suffered from convulsions as a result of parasitic infection in the brain. The wife had convulsions within three months of the husband being diagnosed, he said.


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