Neurocysticercosis: Worms thriving in brains, Assam’s tea garden workers lose lives, livelihoods

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According to a study, Neurocysticercosis(NCC) was one of the leading causes of seizures in developing countries particularly in areas without proper sanitation and where pig-rearing was widespread. 

What is Neurocysticercosis(NCC)?

Neurocysticercosis(NCC) is a zoonotic disease. It is a neurologic infection caused when a human consumes meat from — or is indirectly in contact with — a pig infected with tapeworm.

What happens after the person gets infected with tapeworm?

The eggs of the tapeworm invade the muscles of the human body to make cysts. Sometimes these cysts get into people’s brains, triggering epileptic seizures, headaches, difficulty with balance and excess fluid around the brain.

Transmission: Those with NCC cannot spread the disease to other people. But people with taeniasis (tapeworm infection in the intestine) may spread tapeworm eggs to other people if they do not practice good hygiene (e.g. handwashing after they use the toilet).

Diagnosis: Neurocysticercosis is diagnosed by computed tomography (CT) scan. Diagnosis may also be confirmed by the detection of antibodies against cysticerci in CSF or serum through ELISA or immunoblotting techniques.

Treatment: Treatment includes epileptic therapy and a long-course medication of praziquantel (PZQ) and/or albendazole.

Source: This post is based on the article “Worms thriving in brains, Assam’s tea garden workers lose lives, livelihoods published in Down To Earth on 10th Dec 2021.

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