Pig Tapeworm ‘Taenia Solium’ Found Inside Brain of Florida Man After Experiencing Constant Headaches [Case Report]

Tapeworms lurking inside the brains of humans while both organisms are still alive is a very rare documented medical incident. In 2023, an Australian woman was found with a live parasitic worm inside her brain after experiencing a mysterious illness for a year.

Now, a case report earlier in March 2024 revealed that a Florida, who experienced constant headaches, had a pig tapeworm inside his brain.

In the recent report, medical professionals in Orlando, Florida, described the case of a 52-year-old man with a medical history of migraine headaches, as well as type 2 diabetes mellitus and obesity.

While the man’s migraine seems a normal occurrence in relation to his condition, the health experts found the patient was suffering from neurocysticercosis, which happens when pork tapeworm cysts burrow deep in the nervous system.

Tapeworm Inside Human Brain

Pig Tapeworm 'Taenia Solium' Found Inside Brain of Florida Man After Experiencing Constant Headaches [Case Report]
(Photo : Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay)

In the medical case study published in the journal American Journal of Case Reports on March 7, researchers confirmed the existence of neurocysticercosis, disguised as migraine, in the United States. The findings came after the pig tapeworm was found in the brain of the Florida man who experienced a 4-month series of migraines transitioning from mild to severe. This progression has led to the man’s admission into the hospital.

The patient acquired the parasitic worm through a habit of eating undercooked bacon, where he would develop neurocysticercosis through autoinfection. The condition was also confirmed via neuroimaging and serology. The patient was then treated with anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory medications. The case report was authored by researchers at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Orlando Regional Healthcare System, and University of South Florida.

Also Read: Microscopic Worm Rewired with Brain Parts from a Hydra

What is Cysticercosis?

Tapeworms are still animals that belong to the class Cestoda known for their parasitic behavior. One of these ribbon-like worms is called pork tapeworm which uses pigs as its intermediate host. Concerning this, cysticercosis is a condition caused by the infection of the larval form of T. solium. Since the invertebrate animal can be found in pork meat, it can survive and be digested by humans and other animals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), humans can be the accidental intermediate hosts of the pork tapeworm following ingestion of the parasite’s infectious eggs, causing the development of the cysticercosis disease. Exposure to T. solium is widespread since the parasite worm can be found nearly worldwide. The chances of transmission increases when humans live near pigs and eat undercooked pork, the CDC says.

The infectious eggs of the pig tapeworm can migrate to the central nervous system and cause neurocysticercosis, which can cause severe neurological and epileptic symptoms, as well as death, the US health body adds. Similar to the case of the Florida man, related cases of tapeworms in the brain could also be documented in the future.

Related Article: Live Parasitic Worm Found in Woman’s Brain in Australia After a Year of Mysterious Illness

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