A teenage boy who had accidentally ingested tapeworm eggs due to unhygienic practices has died from the subsequent parasitic disease caused by the worms.
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the 18-year-old Indian national from Faridabad developed some swelling on his right eye, while he also complained of pain in the right side of his groin.
At some point, he also had epileptic seizures, the study revealed.
He underwent an MRI scan, which revealed to his doctors at Faridabad’s hospital that he had “cystic lesions” in his brain.
The attending physicians, Doctors Nishanth Dev and Zafar Abbas then diagnosed the teenager with neurocysticercosis – a parasitic disease affecting the brain and central nervous system.
“Despite treatment at the hospital, the 18-year-old died two weeks after he was admitted to the Emergency Room department,” the journal stated.
The World Health Organisation warns that humans can become infected after consuming under-cooked food, particularly pork; or after drinking water contaminated with tapeworm eggs.
It adds that poor hygiene practices can also predispose an individual to tapeworm infection.
“Once inside the host, the larvae crawl out of the tapeworm eggs and burrow into the brain tissues and muscles, where they build up and form cysts,” WHO said.
It added that preventing the infection would require a wide range of interventions, including improving food safety and hygiene, as well as better diagnosis and treatment.
The doctors at the ESIC Medical College and Hospital in Faridabad said the teenage victim’s MRI scan had revealed “numerous well-defined cystic lesions throughout the cerebral cortex and the brain stem and cerebellum that were consistent with neurocysticercosis.”
They decided against treating the young man with with anti-parasitic medications because they “can worsen inflammation” of the brain cysts.
“Despite treatment with dexamethasone and anti-epileptic medications, the patient died two weeks later,” the doctors lamented.