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Worm Eggs Found in Man's Brain After He Complained of Migraines — and Undercooked Bacon Is to Blame

Doctors discovered tapeworm eggs in the brain of a Florida man who liked to eat “undercooked pork”

<p>Getty; American Journal of Case Reports</p> Stock image of raw bacon alongside scan of tapeworm eggs in man

Getty; American Journal of Case Reports

Stock image of raw bacon alongside scan of tapeworm eggs in man's brain
  • Doctors discovered tapeworm eggs in the brain of a Florida man who complained of worsening migraines

  • The man told doctors he had long enjoyed eating soft, undercooked bacon, which doctors believe is the cause of his infection

  • The condition, called neurocysticercosis, can lead to seizures and even death, the CDC says

A Florida man seeking treatment for his chronic, worsening migraines discovered that he had worm eggs in his brain, which was causing his pain.

The unidentified man, 52, went to the hospital complaining that his migraines were now occurring weekly, and an CT scan showed a mass that doctors initially thought were “congenital neuroglial cysts" according to a report published in the American Journal of Case Reports.

The patient was admitted to the hospital, where an MRI and other tests confirmed these masses weren’t cysts, but were the larvae of tapeworms.

“Cysticercosis IgG Cysts antibody returned positive, confirming the suspicion of neurocysticercosis,” the report said.

<p>American Journal of Case Reports</p> Scans from a Florida man who had worm eggs in his brain

American Journal of Case Reports

Scans from a Florida man who had worm eggs in his brain

“Neurocysticercosis is a preventable parasitic infection caused by larval cysts (enclosed sacs containing the immature stage of a parasite) of the pork tapeworm (Taenia solium),” the CDC says.

“The larval cysts can infect various parts of the body causing a condition known as cysticercosis. Larval cysts in the brain cause a form of cysticercosis called neurocysticercosis which can lead to seizures.”

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“Neurocysticercosis, which affects the brain and is the most severe form of the disease, can be fatal,” the CDC says.

The study noted that “it is very rare for patients to contract neurocysticercosis outside of classic exposures or travel, and such cases in the United States were thought to be nonexistent…It is historically very unusual to encounter infected pork in the United States, and our case may have public health implications.”

Related: California Woman Contracts Parasitic Worms in Her Eye After Going on a Trail Run

And while the man “denied eating raw or street food " the report says he "admitted to a habit of eating lightly cooked, non-crispy bacon for most of his life” — which doctors theorized was the source of his infection.

“It can only be speculated, but given our patient’s predilection for undercooked pork and benign exposure history, we favor that his cysticercosis was transmitted via autoinfection after improper handwashing after he had contracted taeniasis himself from his eating habits.”

<p>Getty</p> Stock image of uncooked bacon

Getty

Stock image of uncooked bacon

The way the parasite ends up in the head after being ingested is as unpleasant as the concept of worm eggs in the brain, according to the CDC.

“A person eats undercooked, infected pork and gets a tapeworm infection in the intestines. She passes tapeworm eggs in her feces. If she doesn’t wash her hands properly after using the bathroom, she may contaminate food or surfaces with feces containing these eggs. These eggs may be swallowed by another person if they eat contaminated food. Once inside the body, the eggs hatch and become larvae that find their way to the brain. These larvae cause neurocysticercosis.”

The man was treated with antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory medications, the report says, and instructed to follow up with an infectious diseases clinic.

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