Neurocysticercosis: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips | Health - Hindustan Times

Neurocysticercosis: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Oct 19, 2023 08:17 PM IST

Health experts reveal all you need to know about Neurocysticercosis - its causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips

Regions low in sanitation and hygiene are dominantly affected by Neurocysticercosis infection where usually, the consumption of contaminated water may lead larvae to the brain, spinal cord or other neurological tissues. Neurocysticercosis is a preventable parasitic infection that affects the central nervous system and is caused by the larval cysts of the pork tapeworm (taenia solium) where the larval cysts affect the various parts of the body, which develops a condition called cysticercosis.

Neurocysticercosis: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips (Photo by Twitter/_viral_content)
Neurocysticercosis: Causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention tips (Photo by Twitter/_viral_content)


In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Anil R, Consultant Neurologist at Manipal Hospital in Bangalore's Hebbal and Millers Road, shared, “Neurocysticercosis refers to a form of brain infection caused by parasites. It is caused by the larval cysts of Taenia solium, also called the pork tapeworm. It is transmitted mainly through eating undercooked meat and contaminated vegetables, particularly the root vegetables that grow below the soil. Upon consumption, the larval cysts of taenia solium pierce the human intestine and cause neurocysticercosis.”

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Dr Rushikesh Patil, Interventional Cardiologist at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai's Powai, added, “Neurocysticercosis is a disease caused by small worms present in dirty and unhygienic regions. It is a byproduct of undercooked pork mainly. So people consuming improperly cooked pork have a high chance of getting infected by this disease which directly affects the brain and spinal cord.”


Dr Anil R revealed, “Most often, neurocysticercosis in other areas or organs of the body may remain asymptomatic or cause subacute to chronic symptoms. But when the condition affects the brain, it causes severe symptoms and can be fatal. Clinically, in the vast majority of the cases (about 70% of all cases), neurocysticercosis presents as seizures or epilepsy. Other common symptoms include headache, stroke, dizziness, or neuropsychiatric dysfunction.”

Dr Rushikesh Patil, said, “These tapeworms will create problems for you when they start staying in your brain or spinal cord. This disease will lead to small electric shocks known as seizures in your body. Other possible symptoms are severe headaches, which will make you uncomfortable and just would not go away. The feeling of confusion and dizziness and experiencing sensory issues are also the other symptoms.”


Dr Anil R said, “Neurocysticercosis is mainly treated symptomatically and by management of seizures by anticonvulsants. If the cyst load is higher, anti-cystic circle treatment is initiated. The anti-cystic circle treatment is similar to the antibiotic treatment used for the bacteria, but the treatment requires careful monitoring.”

Bringing his expertise to how we can evict these uninvited visitors from our bodies, Dr Rushikesh Patil said, “Healthcare providers have different strategies for this. They medicate you with a unique combination of medicines that will fight against these worms. These prescribed drugs directly target the worms, which will help the body to get rid of them but the sudden deaths of these worms in your body may affect your body condition. So to avoid such conditions like swelling, additional medication is prescribed to assist you with further side effects. When the condition becomes out of control, doctors will operate to remove worms from your body.”

Prevention Steps:

Dr Rushikesh Patil concluded, “The first step to avoid this problem is to stop it in the first place. Now the question arises of how, so make sure that your pork should be cooked well. When pork is cooked properly, these worms will die automatically in such extreme heat. Always keep yourself and your environment clean. These small steps will help in avoid these unwanted guests in your body.”

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