Dr. Ira Shah
Consultant Pediatrician, B.J.Wadia Hospital for Children, Mumbai, India
First Created: 01/03/2001  Last Updated: 08/01/2015

Patient Education

What is the Neurocysticercosis?

Neurocysticercosis (pronounced as new-row-cis-t-sir-co-cis) is the most common parasitic infection of the central nervous system. It is caused by the larva of the pork tapeworm. It's a more common disease in America and Latin America, Mexico, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. It is called Neurocysticercosis as neuro = brain, cysticercus = cyst of cercus (tapeworm) sis = disease.

How does Neurocysticercosis spread?

Mainly Neurocysticercosis spread through infected pig products. Pig products infected with larva of tapeworm when eaten leads to tapeworm infection in the intestines (Usually seen when pork is undercooked). This leads to formation of the adult tapeworm in the intestines of the man (Tapeworms can grow upto a length of even one meter). The tapeworm then releases eggs in the stools. These eggs mix in the soil and when food contaminated with this soil or eggs is eaten by pigs, it leads to formation of larva which then migrates to the liver, muscles and eye of the pigs.

Occasionally the eggs may be present in the food of humans or eggs may auto infect the humans and leads to formation of larva which then migrates in the body and if it spreads to the brain leads to Neurocysticercosis. The larva may also migrate to other parts of the body such as eyes, muscles and forms cysts.

Thus Neurocysticercosis is uncommon in vegetarian population.

What are the symptoms of Neurocysticercosis?

Most of the patients present with fits and headache. Other symptoms are vomiting, nausea and uneasiness. In complicated cases, brain pressure increases and can lead to unconsciousness. If the eye is involved it may lead to blindness.

How is diagnosis of Neurocysticercosis made?

Neurocysticercosis diagnosis is based on clinical and radiographic (CT SCAN/MRI) evidence. Sometimes blood tests for antibody against tapeworm may help in the diagnosis. Stool specimens confirm the presence of eggs of cysticerus.

What is the treatment for Neurocysticercosis?

Drugs used to treat worms are used in the treatment of Neurocysticercosis. However the drugs may be used for a longer time and the doctor may also add steroids if the pressure in the brain is higher. The drugs commonly used are "albendazole" and "praziquantel".

How can Neurocysticercosis be prevented?

Avoid infected pig farms, contaminated water, and infected pork. Rely on hygienic food and cleanliness.

Are these any vaccines to prevent Neurocysticercosis?

At present there is no vaccine to prevent Neurocysticercosis.

Neurocysticercosis Neurocysticercosis 2015-08-01
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