Neurocysticercosis is a parasitic disease that is a tissue infection from a pork tapeworm called Taenia solium. It primarily affects the brain, wherein cysts are formed within the brain that results in neurologic syndromes like epileptic seizures. It is infamously called the “hidden epidemic” as it affects people worldwide, and is the most common parasitic disease.
This type of disease is common with low-income populations with poor and unsanitized areas. But, it can surprisingly be found in well-developed nations such as in the United States, as long as the host carriers of the parasite can survive in the locations or via improper food handling procedures when it comes to raw food.
Depending on the adult tapeworm’s infection, most medical conditions will be based on it. A common infection that humans contract from Taenia solium tapeworm would be the intestinal infection called taeniasis.
However, cysticercosis will be the diagnosis if more than one organ is affected by the virus. That includes the muscles, skin and eyes. If the central nervous system is attacked by the virus, it then will be called neurocysticercosis.
This disease is highly associated with local cultural practices that lack proper sanitation in their processes. This results in a high endemic ratio in locations like Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Asia, commonly found in their respective local ethnic groups that do not follow modern sanitation practices when it comes to handling and storage of their foods within their community.
Due to the mentioned practices above, the illness spreads rather quickly in these groups, wherein there is no proper medication available on-hand to prevent it from spreading.
It can be considered part of the Neglected Parasitic Infections (NPIs), which is similar to Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) due to the lack of proper measures in counteracting the disease, with little to no budget allotted for its research and development.
There are no specific types of neurocysticercosis as of the moment, but only the type of cysticercosis, which itself is a type of tissue infection.
There are some infected individuals who do not show any symptoms. However, there are some that will show symptoms listed below:
The primary diagnosis for this illness is via Computed Tomography (CT) scan, which is an imaging procedure using combined x-ray measurements that are computer-processed. Additionally, the detection of antibodies via an ELISA test or via an immunoblotting techniques test may be used for diagnosis.
There are several treatments for this illness. Some are done via therapy or via intake of prescribed medications. Below is a list of current treatments given today to patients with the said illness:
- Epileptic therapy
- Steroid therapy
- Surgical removal of cysts in the brain (if required)
- Medication usage of praziquantel (PZQ) and/or albendazole (this is taken in conjunction with epileptic therapy)