Wednesday, October 29, 2014

"And the worms ate into his brain..."




That's it.

I'm seeing a neurologist tomorrow.

Or at least I would like to. This old article from Discover magazine has convinced me that it would be in my best interests. For you see there is a silent epidemic among us, one that manifests itself in the form of paralysis, blindness, impaired speech or eyesight, epileptic seizure, or even coma. The reason.

Tapeworms. Inside the brain.

Tapeworms are usually known as these elongated, ribbon-like parasites that can inhabit the intestinal region of the body. They start out small, though, in a larval stage as cysts and that's when they can end up in the brain. This condition is known as "neurocysticercosis."

Worms in the brain. Think about it.

Perhaps most insidious of all is the fact that there's no telling how many people have this as the outward symptoms can masquerade as neuro-conditions such as epilepsy. That's why an MRI is required to locate the blobbish, white cysts inside the brain. A blood test for antibodies that are produced against tapeworms is needed for additional evidence.

How does this happen to someone? Same way tapeworms find their way into anyone: consumption of undercooked pork. Larvae of the tapeworm get into the muscle tissue of a pig and are then carried into a human when the pork product is not sufficiently heated. These larvae sometimes "lose their way," as the article says, and flow through the bloodstream and into the brain. The article goes into all manner of ghoulish and chthonian description as to what exactly happens when the worm larvae end up in the cerebrum. So if you want to know more I'd suggest clicking the link. One especially gruesome anecdote depicts a man who had a tapeworm wrapped his brain stem. After the worm eventually died, the ensuing swelling of the brain sent the man into a coma.

If you think you have tapeworms in your brain, there are treatments such as a drug called praziquantel, but that brings problems of its own. Prevention, as always, is a better course of action. There are efforts underway to vaccinate pigs from ever getting tapeworm to begin with and...better yet...we can all take action and choose to reduce our consumption of meat. Wow am I more glad than ever that I decided to do that. I'll probably toss bacon out of my diet altogether.

I also want that MRI just to be sure.





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