(Note from Erin: If you eat meat, please be careful when preparing pork.)
A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that an Indian teen who ate undercooked pork died when parasitic tapeworms in the meat infected his brain.
The 18-year-old showed up at a Faridabad hospital complaining that he had experienced seizures, swelling over his right eye, and pain in his right groin. Upon conducting an MRI, doctors found that his brain was “completely riddled with ‘well-defined cystic lesions.'”1 Doctors determined that the patient had a condition called neurocysticercosis (which occurs after ingesting Taenia sodium eggs, or pork tapeworm).
“Doctors did not treat him with antiparasitic medications, as they tend to worsen inflammation for those with cysts in their brain — and could even lead to loss of vision.
So they administered the anti-inflammatory steroid dexamethasone, as well as anti-seizure medications. Despite the treatment, he died of his illness two weeks later.”1
Humans can become infected with neurocysticercosis after consuming undercooked pork, by water contaminated by tapeworm eggs, or through poor hygiene practices. The pork tapeworm is common in Latin American, Asia, and has also broken out in Sub-Saharan Africa.