Brain tapeworms sound disgusting. Well, that’s because they are. In a recent article published by Discover Magazine, the parasites are discussed at-length, so much so that you may find yourself second-guessing every single piece of food that enters your mouth. In this day and age where cockroaches and severed fingers are unknowingly served to us by major restaurant chains, it’s not surprisingly that brain tapeworms are becoming an issue.
How does one come into contact with such an organism? It’s essentially no different than contracting a tapeworm that lives, feeds, and grows inside your intestines. Brain tapeworms are larvae that work their way through your bloodstream to your tasty little brain, where they effectively dig in their heels and set up shop in the form of large white cysts. So when you chow down on an undercooked piece of pork, you may, in fact, be consuming some of the larvae. When you stop to consider that a single tapeworm can produce 50,000 eggs, the bigger picture becomes shockingly clear. Your lunch suddenly seems intimidating.
Side effects from brain tapeworms include violent seizures, brain damage, blindness, loss of motor functions, and, in some extreme cases, the individual suffering from the affliction may fall into a coma. Although there are treatments available to combat the infestation, they can often cause the person’s brain to swell.
Dr. Theodore Nash, who discussed the problem with Discover Magazine, said that it’s difficult to track just how many people are carrying tapeworms around inside their skulls. However, he estimates that nearly 2,000 people in the United States are playing host to these parasites. In an even more alarming revelation, Nash suspects that almost 29 million people in Latin America could have them in their craniums right now. Very scary, indeed.
So how does one go about avoiding brain tapeworms? It’s pretty simple: Wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve handled raw meat and, of course, make sure that your food is cooked thoroughly. Otherwise, you might find yourself with dozens of tiny tenants living off the tender noodle inside your skull.