Tapeworm infections of brain increasing in Mexico and bordering southwestern states

Published on April 15, 2010 at 2:31 AM · No Comments

Increasing in Mexico and bordering southwestern states

Tapeworm infections of the brain, which can cause epileptic seizures, appear to be increasing in Mexico and bordering southwestern states, Loyola University Health System researchers report.

In Mexico, up to 10 percent of the population may have the infection, neurocysticercosis. While many people never develop symptoms, neurocysticercosis nevertheless "remains a serious health concern, especially among the poor," Loyola researchers wrote in the April issue of the journal Neurological Research.

Their article, "Management of Neurocysticercosis," is among several articles in the April issue of Neurological Research that describe neurological infections in Latin America. Guest editor is Dr. Jaime Belmares, assistant professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Neurocysticercosis is caused by a tapeworm found in pigs called Taenia solium. A person can get infected with the parasite by eating undercooked pork. That person then can excrete tapeworm eggs. The contamination spreads through food, water or surfaces contaminated with feces. A person can become infected, for example, by drinking contaminated water or putting contaminated fingers in the mouth.

Neurocysticercosis is most common in poor rural communities in developing countries with poor sanitation and hygiene and where pigs are allowed to roam freely and eat human feces.

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