This medical story is not for the faint of heart so read at your peril. Doctors in the Indian city of Gurugram discovered that an 8-year-old girl had more than 100 tapeworm eggs in her brain. The girl is now safe and free from the parasites, but she went through some truly traumatic times over the last six months.
The girl suffered from severe headaches and epileptic seizures, and she was put on steroids to help with the cysts that formed in her brain. The medication led to an unhealthy increase in weight, from 40 kilograms (88 pounds) to 60 kilograms (132 pounds). She also had difficulties breathing and walking. As the condition didn’t improve, doctors conducted another CT scan that revealed the underlying cause: a dramatic parasitic infection.
“The scan of the girl’s brain showed more than a hundred white dots, formed due to tapeworm eggs," Dr Praveen Gupta, director of the Artemis Hospital’s neurology department, told the Times of India. "Such an infection is caused by accidentally eating foods infested by tapeworms. When eggs reach the brain through the nervous system, they cause neurocysticercosis, which is characterised by a severe headache, epileptic seizures, and confusion."
The girl was first treated with decongestants to reduce the swelling and then anthelmintic therapy was administered, which is used to destroy parasitic worms. She had to go through another course of steroids. The girl is now back to her normal shape, she can walk, and has resumed her studies.
Neurocysticercosis is one of the neglected tropical diseases and is caused by Taenia solium, the so-called pork tapeworm. Eggs of the tapeworm hatch in the intestine, where they can then spread to the brain. The larvae can cross the blood-brain barrier, like in this case. Diagnosis of the condition is often difficult due to the lack of specific clinical symptoms. Neurocysticercosis affects mainly people in South America, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa and it is rare in the rest of the world.
[H/T: Times of India]