Parents of an eight-year-old were shocked when they found out that their daughter's brain was infested with 100 tapeworm eggs. The young girl suffered from severe headaches and epileptic seizures for six months. She was also earlier diagnosed with neurocysticercosis because of so many cysts in her brain due to which her brain swelled up and she was put on steroids. However, a CT scan revealed that the cysts were in fact 100 tapeworms that reached her brain through the bloodstream from the stomach.
According to doctors, because of so much swelling in the brain, the girl was put on prolonged steroids which led to weight gain and she put on almost 20 kg. She was breathless and unable to walk. However, despite heavy medications, her epileptic seizures and headache remained persistent. Doctors said the treatment began by reducing her swelling with decongestants and later steroids. Gradually the tapeworm eggs were treated with anti-parasitic drugs. Eventually, she was able to walk and resume school.
"The scan of the girl's brain showed more than a hundred white dots, formed due to tapeworm eggs. Such an infection is caused by accidentally eating foods infested by tapeworms. When eggs reach the brain through the nervous system, they cause neurocysticercosis, which is characterised by a severe headache, epileptic seizures and confusion," Dr Praveen Gupta, director of neurology department, Fortis Hospital in Gurugram. He added that at the time of admission she was almost unconscious due to these cysts and large amount of swelling.
"Her treatment began by reducing her swelling with decongestants and later steroids and the tapeworms were treated by starting anthelmintic therapy with albendazole under observation. Later the steroids and antihelmintic therapy were weaned off. She lost all the weight gain and was able to walk and resume school," said Dr Gupta.
"We had absolutely no idea that our healhy and cheerful daughter could ever get such an infection. Fortunately she got treated before the eggs could hatch and do more damage to her brain," said the girl's father. "Tapeworm infestation of the brain is caused by eating improperly washed fruits, vegetables and undercooked meat infected by the pork tapeworm," said Dr Gupta.