Brain Worms Like RFK Jr.’s: Here’s What to Know

Brain Worms Like RFK Jr.’s: Here’s What to Know

— About 2,000 individuals in the U.S. are hospitalized with neurocysticercosis each year

Judy George
Deputy Managing Editor, MedPage Today

Did a worm consume part of the brain of governmental prospect Robert F. Kennedy Jr.?

The New York City Times reported that, in a 2012 deposition, Kennedy stated he had CT problems and cognitive issues due to “a worm that entered my brain and consumed a part of it and after that passed away.” Kennedy likewise has actually stated he had brain fog due to mercury poisoning at one time, in addition to atrial fibrillation.

In a YouTube interview today, Kennedy stated the “brain worm” was more than likely neurocysticercosis, a brain infection brought on by a tapeworm.

“With the info we have so far, it appears more than likely that Kennedy’s condition followed an infection by the pork tapeworm Taenia solium,” Simon Groen, PhD, of the University of California Riverside, stated in an e-mail to MedPage Today“It appears Kennedy taken a trip thoroughly in Africa, South America, and Asia in the past, and these areas have a much greater occurrence of infections than the U.S.”

Neurocysticercosis cysts do not “consume” brain, stated Philip Budge, MD, PhD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “The parasite larvae reach the brain through the circulatory system, then produce a cyst that displaces the surrounding tissues.”

“The repercussions can be extreme if the cyst kinds in a really delicate place– such in the ventricles or obstructing a cerebrospinal fluid outflow system– however a live cyst does not in fact damage any surrounding tissue,” Budge informed MedPage Today“However, when a cyst passes away, the immune action to the passing away cyst can trigger swelling and swelling, which might harm tissue or trigger seizures.”

Depending upon which part of the brain the worms encyst in, the subsequent swelling and edema likewise can cause “cognitive issues and character modifications, and even loss of sight, comas, and paralysis,” Groen stated.

Brain cysts from worm infections are a leading reason for seizures worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. The CDC approximates that about 2,000 individuals in the U.S. are hospitalized with neurocysticercosis each year. Seizure and headache are the most typical signs.

In 2017, the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene provided detailed medical practice standards on detecting and dealing with neurocysticercosis.

Kinds of neurocysticercosis can vary from single cysts that might be fairly safe to obstructions that trigger pressure and fluid on the brain, kept in mind standard author A. Clinton White, MD, of the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. Neurocysticercosis “can even be asymptomatic,” he informed MedPage Today

Medical practice standards require both CT and MRI to identify treatment and suggest purchasing an enzyme-linked immunotransfer blot (EITB) to validate the medical diagnosis, instead of a less delicate enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Steroid and anti-parasitic medications can assist deal with a single live brain cyst, however clients with several practical cysts need to be treated with a mix of anti-parasitics. If a cyst obstructs a ventricle, it ought to be eliminated by neuroendoscopy. Clients who establish hydrocephalus might need a shunt to drain pipes excess fluid, and those with seizures can gain from anti-epileptic drugs.

“There might be moderate cognitive issues with neurocysticercosis, particularly in those who establish persistent seizures,” White kept in mind.

Neurocysticercosis is a typical reason for neurologic illness in locations where pigs are raised and where there is bad human health, White stated. “It triggers about a 3rd of seizures in those locations.” Practically all the hospitalized individuals with neurocysticercosis in the U.S. bring it from another nation; it is hardly ever obtained locally, he included.

“One factor this is unusual in the United States is that we do a respectable task of avoiding fecal-oral contamination in our food and water system,” Budge stated. “The other factor is we do not have lots of tapeworm providers, due to the fact that the illness has actually been basically removed from domestic swine herds.”

The parasite that triggers cysticercosis, T. soliumis a tapeworm that is typically passed backward and forward in between pigs and individuals, he explained.

“In individuals, it generally lives as a tapeworm in the gut of a contaminated individual. The tapeworm eggs are infected pigs when they consume the food polluted with human fecal product. In the pig, the eggs hatch into larvae and form cysts, and individuals can get the tapeworm by consuming undercooked pork,” Budge stated.

“But for an individual to get a cyst, they need to consume the eggs, which are shed in the feces of somebody bring the tapeworm,” he included. “So, to avoid it, prevent consuming polluted food, specifically when taking a trip.”

  • Judy George covers neurology and neuroscience news for MedPage Today, blogging about brain aging, Alzheimer’s, dementia, MS, unusual illness, epilepsy, autism, headache, stroke, Parkinson’s, ALS, concussion, CTE, sleep, discomfort, and more. Follow

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