Man with migraines discovers he had tapeworms in his brain: doctors blame bacon

A man who was hospitalized for his severe migraines discovered that the pain was caused by tapeworm larvae in his brain. Doctors believe he became infected by eating undercooked bacon.

The 52-year-old American, whose name has not been revealed, consulted several doctors after his regular migraines became more severe over the past four months.

Migraines became more frequent, severe and did not decrease with regular medication, according to a study published Thursday in the American Journal of Case Reports.

The patient was admitted to the hospital for tests. A CT scan revealed numerous cystic foci, or fluid-filled sacs, in the brain. Antibody tests came back positive for cysticercosis cysts, and the man was diagnosed with neurocysticercosis.

This condition is described as a form of parasitic tissue infection caused by larval cysts of the pig tapeworm found in the brain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A person gets cysticercosis by ingesting larval cysts from infected feces, which usually occurs from inadequate or no hand washing, the CDC added. The disease is endemic in developing countries, due to their sanitary deficiencies.

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The patient had not recently traveled to high-risk areas, and his “habit of eating undercooked, non-crispy bacon most of his life” was the only connection to the neurocysticercosis diagnosis.

“We can only speculate, but given our patient’s predilection for undercooked pork and history of benign exposure, we believe that his cysticercosis could have been self-infected, following inadequate hand washing and his eating habits,” the report concluded.

The patient was treated with antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory drugs, successfully. His brain lesions disappeared and his headaches improved.

It is “very rare” for patients to get neurocysticercosis in the United States, but the study results challenge that idea.

“Historically, it has been very rare to find infected pork in the United States, so “Our case may have implications for public health,” the report added.

Symptoms of neurocysticercosis range from headache to seizures, depending on the infected structures and tissues. According to the CDC, the disease can be fatal.