by Andy Campbell

You’ve heard of disgusting, 20-foot-long tapeworms living inside peoples’ intestines, but it turns out their larvae are even more horrific, and they could be eating holes in your brain right now, undetected.

Brain tapeworms, or Neurocysticercosis, are a parasitic disease of the nervous system, and Discover Magazine had an interesting (and vomit-inducing) expose on the problem this week.

Basically, brain tapeworms — larvae that can attach themselves to the cranium in the form of large white cysts — are the result of a wrong turn. The larvae are accustomed to traveling through a pig’s bloodstream and attaching themselves to its muscles. But when a human eats undercooked pork, there’s a chance he or she could be eating undercooked tapeworm larvae as well.

Though the larva is now inside the human body, it still thinks it’s inside the pig. Confusion ensues. It flows through the bloodstream and gets stuck inside fluid-filled cavities in the brain, then latches on and masks itself from the immune system. These larvae can form vast networks on the brain and completely mangle its function if not treated.

The magazine reported that Maryland’s Dr. Theodore Nash sees patients with horrible side-effects caused by tapeworm brain damage. Some fall into comas, while others lose motor functions, experience violent seizures or go blind.


Magnetic resonance image of a patient with neu...

Magnetic resonance image of a patient with neurocysticercosis demonstrating multiple cysticerci within the brain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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