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HomeFood and DrinkExperts Link Man’s Neurocysticercosis Diagnosis to Eating Undercooked Bacon

Experts Link Man’s Neurocysticercosis Diagnosis to Eating Undercooked Bacon

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A 52-year-old man in the U.S. has been diagnosed with neurocysticercosis, a parasitic infection in his brain, after eating undercooked bacon, according to the American Journal of Case Reports published on Thursday, March 14, 2024. The middle-aged man visited the clinic about changes for his usual migraines over four months.

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The migraine became worse, and unresponsive to medication. Hence, the man was admitted to the hospital for testing. The CT scans from the patient diagnosed him with neurocysticercosis. Here’s what we know about the condition.

What is Neurocysticercosis? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, neurocysticercosis is a form of parasitic tissue infection caused by larval cysts of the pork tapeworm in the brain.

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Neurocysticercosis is also a condition caused by a parasitic infection in the brain. According to studies, it’s caused by a type of tapeworm. It can lead to seizures, headaches, and other neurological symptoms. Hence, getting medical help is important if you suspect you have it. 

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Possible Ways to Contract Neurocysticercosis

According to the CDC, a person contracts neurocysticercosis by ingesting larval cysts from infected feces, typically from a lack of hand washing. Also, you can contract it by swallowing microscopic eggs passed in the feces of a person who has an intestinal pork tapeworm.

For instance, if a person eats undercooked, infected pork and gets a tapeworm infection in the intestines, the tapeworm eggs pass out through the feces. If the person doesn’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom, they may contaminate food or surfaces with feces containing these eggs.

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If someone eats the contaminated food, they might swallow these eggs. Once inside the body, the eggs hatch and become larvae that find their way to the brain. These larvae cause neurocysticercosis.

How the Man in Question Contracted Neurocysticercosis

The report says the 52-year-old man had not recently traveled to high-risk areas. However, experts connected his “habit of eating lightly cooked, non-crispy bacon most of his life” to the neurocysticercosis diagnosis.

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“It’s speculated, given our patient’s predilection for undercooked pork and benign exposure history, we favor that his neurocysticercosis transmitted via autoinfection after improper handwashing after he contracted taeniasis himself from his eating habits.” the report said. 

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Risk Factors for Getting Neurocysticercosis

According to the CDC, people who have a pork tapeworm infection (autoinfection) are at a higher risk of getting neurocysticercosis by swallowing parasite eggs. Someone might also contract it if they live in a household with someone who has a pork tapeworm. In addition, eating food cooked by someone with a pork tapeworm infection causes it.

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In general, most people in the United States with neurocysticercosis are from places where the disease is common, especially Latin America. Fortunately, neurocysticercosis is a preventable disease. Good handwashing practices and treating people infected with intestinal tapeworms could drastically reduce the number of infections.

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Is It Treatable? 

Yes, it is. It usually involves a combination of medication to kill the parasites and manage the symptoms, as well as other treatments depending on the severity of the infection. It’s essential to seek medical help if you suspect you are infected.

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The 52-year-old man was successfully treated with anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory medications. His brain lesions regressed, and his headaches reduced. It is “very rare” for patients to contract neurocysticercosis in the U.S., but the study’s findings may change that notion.

The report says, “It is historically very unusual to encounter infected pork in the United States, and our case may have public health implications.” 

Prevention Measures

To prevent the infection, it’s essential to follow good hygiene practices. Wash your hands with soap and clean water before eating and after using the bathroom. Cook food properly, especially pork, as it can be a common source of the infection.

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Also, be cautious about your food and water source, and try to avoid consuming undercooked or raw meat. Taking these precautions can help reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

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