Cysticercosis- Clinical manifestations, diagnosis, treatment


Cysticercosis is a parasitic infection caused by the larval stage of the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium. The infection occurs when humans accidentally ingest the eggs of the tapeworm, which are shed in the feces of infected humans or pigs. The eggs hatch in the intestine and release larvae that migrate through the bloodstream and lodge in various tissues, such as the brain, muscles, eyes, and skin. There they form cysts (also called cysticerci) that can cause a variety of symptoms depending on their location and number.

Cysticercosis is a major public health problem in many parts of the world, especially in low- and middle-income countries where sanitation is poor and pigs are raised in close contact with humans. It is estimated that about 50 million people are infected with T. solium worldwide, and that cysticercosis causes about 50,000 deaths per year. Cysticercosis is also an emerging disease in some developed countries due to increased immigration and travel from endemic areas.

The most serious and common form of cysticercosis is neurocysticercosis (NCC), which affects the central nervous system. NCC is the leading cause of acquired epilepsy in many endemic regions, accounting for up to 70% of cases. NCC can also cause headaches, hydrocephalus, meningitis, stroke, dementia, and other neurological disorders. NCC can be fatal if not treated promptly and adequately.

Other forms of cysticercosis include ocular cysticercosis, which can impair vision or cause blindness; subcutaneous cysticercosis, which can produce painless nodules under the skin; and muscular cysticercosis, which can cause muscle weakness or pain. Cysticercosis can also affect other organs such as the heart, liver, lungs, and spleen.

The diagnosis of cysticercosis is based on a combination of clinical, epidemiological, radiological, and serological criteria. The treatment of cysticercosis depends on the type, location, and number of cysts, as well as the patient`s clinical condition. The main options are antiparasitic drugs (such as praziquantel or albendazole), corticosteroids (to reduce inflammation), antiepileptic drugs (to control seizures), surgery (to remove cysts or relieve pressure), and supportive care.

The prevention and control of cysticercosis require a comprehensive approach that involves breaking the cycle of transmission between humans and pigs. This includes improving sanitation and hygiene practices; ensuring proper cooking of pork; treating human tapeworm carriers with anthelmintics; vaccinating pigs against T. solium infection; and educating communities about the risks and prevention of cysticercosis.