John D. Chovan, James R. Cacchillo
Medical Pathology | Nursing | Parasitic Diseases | Public Health and Community Nursing
Neurocysticercosis (NCC) is one of the most common parasitic infections of the central nervous system in humans and is the most serious clinical manifestation of cysticercosis. NCC is caused by the ingestion of the larval form of the pork tapeworm Taenia solium. NCC is endemic in low income developing countries where pigs are commonly raised, including the countries of Central America, South America, and parts of Africa and Asia. (Naddaf, Seeger, & Stafstrom, 2014). The parasite Taenia solium encysts in the brain and can express a broad range of symptoms including seizures, headache, hydrocephalus, encephalitis, stroke and mental health and cognitive disorders. Neurocysticercosis is a leading cause of acquired epilepsy in epidemic regions with 25%-40% affected individuals showing evidence of the parasitic infection. This infection process is usually diagnosed due the development of new-onset seizure disorder in an individual (O’Neal & Flecker, 2015). Over the past two decades, medical advancements such as diagnostic testing, anti-parasitic drugs, anti-inflammatories, and neurosurgical procedures have improved the prognosis of patients infected with Taenia solium. However, despite these advancements NCC has remained a major public health problem in most of the world. Millions of individuals are estimated to be infected with this parasitic infection, many becoming symptomatic at some point in their lives. Aggressive management of this infection is needed to combat mortality from extraparenchymal neurocysticercosis mainly due to intracranial hypertension, but effective treatment is not always available in endemic regions (Garcia, Nash, & Del Brutto, 2014).
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