Worms on the Brain


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As I was searching through articles for my first blog, I came across a particular article that made me despise those nasty tapeworms even more. I didn't think was possible after the past few classes. 

My growing despise for the tapeworms came about when I learned that in addition to being found in our intestines and eyes, they can also begin their lives as larva in our brains! How can a worm that is typically known for being found in our intestines also be present in our brains? These specific tapeworms, called taenia solium, are transmitted from humans to pigs and then back from the pigs to humans. Pigs initially ingest the larva by rummaging through infected human feces, which any pig probably wouldn't think twice about. The larva makes its way to the pigs' stomach, hatches and ventures into the blood stream where they form cysts. Humans then ingest the tapeworm cysts if and when they consume pork meat that is not fully cooked. The tapeworm cysts that end up in your brain aren't exactly the geniuses of the group. They have made a wrong and gotten lost when they should of been heading to your 
intestines. 


torypig.jpg


As I am sure you can imagine, having tapeworm cysts in your brain is not exactly a good thing. In fact, it can cause some pretty serious medical issues and the fact that its quite difficult to discover makes it even more of a threat. Tapeworm cysts on a person's brain can cause anything from seizures to comas. These typically occur because if the cyst is trapped within a ventricle in the brain. This cuts off the blood supply and causes a great deal of pressure with then results in numerous critical medical conditions. 

brainworms.jpg
Pictured above are tapeworm cysts that were found within an individual's brain 
Photo courtesy of Theodore E. Nash , M.D

Please do not begin to worry that you may have neurocysticercosis, or tapeworm cysts on your brain. It is not a very common occurrence in the United States. It is estimated that only around 1,500 to 2,000 people have contracted the disease within the United States (Theodore E. Nash, 2012). Now, this number is much higher on a worldwide scale. Now, even if you do, by some rare chance, have a tapeworm cyst on your brain, it may not have any negative effects on you at all. In order for the tapeworm cyst to cause you issues it needs to be in the right spot or causing a great deal of pressure on your brain. 

Treatment plans have improved immensely over the years for this medical issue. In past years, when the technology, such as MRIs, was not present to discover the cysts, experimental surgery was done. Surgeons would find the cysts in their patient's brain and have no idea what to do so, in most cases the patient would end up dying. Luckily for us today, we have the needed medical equipment.

You can also prevent yourself from even contracting the tapeworm cysts in the first place. It's very simple, stay away from uncooked pork. This is, by far, the number one explanation for contracting the cysts. 

If you would like to learn more about this topic, I included the link to the article I received my information from below.

4 Comments

Props to you for discovering an article on a topic so relevant to our class discussion! Not going to lie though, this is pretty disturbing and upsetting. As if we all weren't upset enough that these worms could live in our intestines, now they can live in our brains, too. Yuck. But seriously nice work on this blog, it was really interesting. As a pork lover, I searched other diseases that can be contracted from undercooked pork and found trichinosis is another one. Yikes!

Hey,Morgan!Thanks for reminding us there is a bigger and more threatening place for worms to exist,though I also found it a little bit unnerving.Reassuring as it may suggest,there are only 1,500-2,000 cases have been found across the States.Therefore,I guess it'd be fine if we do have these worms in our brain(please don't visualize them) as long as we don't contract with this disease.

I couldn't stop thinking about those worms either. And what exactly did they do that made the kids stupid. Was it the itchy butt, or that the worms actually ate something that was valuable to us learning. Well I looked it up, and turns out there are certain types of parasites that can manipulate our behaviors... MINDBLOWN!!!

All of this talk of worms lately brings me back to when I was a kid and almost every other kid I knew always worried about having insects lay eggs in their brains. Apparently those childhood delusions were not so delusional after all!

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