Teenager dies after tapeworms burrow into his brain and testicle

Adam Forrest
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Teenager dies after tapeworms burrow into his brain and testicle

A teenager in India suffering from seizures was found by doctors to have a parasitic disease caused by swallowing tapeworm eggs, according to a new journal study.

The 18-year-old from Faridabad was taken to hospital with swelling over his right eye and pain in the right side of his groin.

Following an MRI scan, the doctors at Faridabad’s hospital discovered that the teen had “cystic lesions” in his brain, according to the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr Nishanth Dev and Dr S. Zafar Abbas then diagnosed the patient with neurocysticercosis – a parasitic disease affecting the brain and central nervous system.

Despite treatment at the hospital, the 18-year-old died two weeks after he was admitted to the ER department.

Humans can become infected after consuming undercooked food, particularly pork, or water contaminated with tapeworm eggs, or through poor hygiene practices, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The larvae crawl out of the tapeworm eggs and burrow into the brain tissues and muscles, where they build up and form cysts.

The health body said preventing the infection would require a wide range of interventions, including improving food safety and hygiene, as well as better identification and treatment.

The doctors at the ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Faridabad said the MRI scan had revealed “numerous well-defined cystic lesions throughout the cerebral cortex and the brain stem and cerebellum that were consistent with neurocysticercosis”.

They decided against treating the young man with with antiparasitic medications because they “can worsen inflammation” of the brain cysts.

“Despite treatment with dexamethasone and anti-epileptic medications, the patient died two weeks later,” the doctors said.