Cysticercosis – worm infection caused by larva of pork tapeworm – Cysticercus cellulosae, leading to the damage of skin, hypoderm, muscles, brain, spinal cord, eyes and sometimes internal organs and bones. It looks like a formation in the form of a bubble with a diameter of 5-15 mm, containing screwed scolex. A man is the ultimate host in the biological cycle of pork tapeworm. The adult tapeworm lives in the human gut. The development of cysticercosis begins when helminth’s eggs enter in the stomach and intestines, where, under the influence of gastric juice thick egg shell dissolves and the released embryos are carried through the blood to tissues and organs of the body. Most often (60%) cysticerci gets into the brain, less – in skeletal muscle and eyes. Lifespan of the parasite in the brain varies from 5 to 30 years.
In most cases there are hundreds or thousands of parasites in the the brain, but there are also single cysticerci. They are located in the meninges of the brain, in superficial cortex, in the ventricular cavity, where they can freely float. Dying, parasite calcify, however, remaining in the brain, supports chronic inflammation. Cysticercosis causes toxic effect on the nervous system and leads to reactive inflammation of tissue and membranes, surrounding brain. Cysticercosis is accompanied by edema of the brain, hydrocephalus due to increased secretion of cerebrospinal fluid choroid plexus, mechanical obstruction flow of cerebrospinal fluid, reactive meningitis.
The source of the pathogen invasion is a sick person, releasing matured eggs and tapeworm segments with the faeces. Infection occurs because of contaminated hands, food and water. People suffering from teniasis can become infected with vomiting, followed by ingestion of hexacanth. Cysticercosis is common in pastoral areas where pork is eaten without proper cooking and sanitation.
Diagnosis of cysticercosis
Brain cysticercosis is extremely difficult to diagnose because of the lack of pathognomonic symptoms. Approximately 50% of patients with cysticercosis register subcutaneous location of parasites. In this case diagnosis “cysticercosis” is set on the basis of X-ray or biopsy.
Cysticercosis is treated withs praziquantel (50 mg / kg / day. For 2 weeks) or albendazole (15 mg / kg / day. For 1 month). Patients taking these drugs may suffer from epileptic seizures, increased headaches and other symptoms of intoxication by degradation products of dying cysts of cysticerci. To reduce such effects are used dexamethasone or non-hormonal anti-inflammatory drugs, as well as dehydrating drugs and anticonvulsants.
The most important is personal hygiene, proper handling of food, vegetables, fruits, sanitary in slaughterhouses for pork.