The ailment of traffic chief Sylvan “Jack” Jakosalem – neurocysticercosis – is a preventable parasitic infection from pork tapeworm (Taenia solium), according to the website of the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The disease may also be prevalent for persons who eat undercooked, infected pork meat.
Once inside the body, the tapeworm’s eggs hatch and become larvae that find their way to the brain.
Some common signs of infection include seizures like epilepsy as well as severe headache, said the US National Library of Medicine website.
There are treatments involving anti-parasitic drugs but this is highly debatable , the agency said, because some of these drugs may expose patients to higher risks.
The disease can be fatal when the infection is at its most severe level. Treatment may involve brain surgery.
Neurocysticercosis is acquired by eating food contaminated with the feces of hogs infected with tapeworm.
Poor hygiene and food handling is the ultimate cause of such infection, says the US National Library of Medicine website.
Eggs of tapeworm, usually intestinal pork tapeworm, are shed in stool and contaminate food.
When these microscopic eggs are ingested and exposed to gastric acid in the human stomach, they lose their protective capsule and turn into larval cysts, called oncospheres..
According to the US agency, oncospheres cross the gastrointestinal tract and migrate through the vascular system to the brain, muscle, eyes, and other structures.
Once in the brain, the larval cysts first generate a minimal immune response and may remain in the brain as viable cysts for years. /Dale G. Israel, Senior Reporter