In a rare medical case, doctors at Fortis hospital in New Delhi found some 100 tapeworm eggs in the brain of an eight-year-old girl. Her parents, who were unaware of this, were shocked on finding out that their daughter’s brain was infested by tapeworm eggs. The girl had been suffering from severe headaches and epileptic seizures for the past six months. Initially, she was diagnosed with Neurocysticercosis (cyst in the brain), a preventable parasitic infection of the central nervous system caused by the pork tapeworm Taenia solium. As a result of so many cysts, her brain swelled and she was put on steroids, which resulted in weight gain of some 20 kilos. She also had breathlessness and difficulty walking.
However, when a CT scan was conducted, it revealed that the 100 cysts were in fact tapeworms that may have reached her brain through the bloodstream from the stomach. Doctors started the treatment by reducing her swelling with decongestants and later steroids. Gradually, the tapeworm eggs were treated with anti-parasitic drugs. “Her brain scan showed more than a 100 white dots, formed due to tapeworm eggs. 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," said Dr Praveen Gupta, director Neurology department. The girl, who was almost unconscious at the time of admission to the hospital, is now able to walk and has resumed school.
It is advisable to always wash the vegetables thoroughly before consumption, specially the leafy ones because the tapeworm is usually attached under the leaf and get in the nervous system from the stomach.
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