Cysticercosis

Definition

Cysticercosis is an infection by a parasite called Taenia solium (T solium). It is a pork tapeworm that creates cysts in different areas in the body.

Causes

Cysticercosis is caused by swallowing eggs from T solium. The eggs are found in contaminated food. Autoinfection is when a person who is already infected with adult T solium swallows its eggs. This occurs due to improper hand washing after a bowel movement (fecal-oral transmission).

Risk factors include eating pork, fruits, and vegetables contaminated with T solium as a result of undercooking or improper food preparation. The disease can also be spread by contact with infected feces.

The disease is rare in the United States. It is common in many developing countries.

Symptoms

Most often, the worms stay in muscles and do not cause symptoms.

Symptoms occur depending on where the infection is found in the body:

Exams and Tests

Tests that may be done include:

Treatment

Treatment may involve:

If the cyst is in the eye or brain, steroids should be started a few days before other medicines to avoid problems caused by swelling during antiparasitic treatment. Not all people benefit from antiparasitic treatment.

Sometimes, surgery may be needed to remove the infected area.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outlook is good, unless the lesion has caused blindness, heart failure, or brain damage. These are rare complications.

Possible Complications

Complications may include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

If you have any symptoms of cysticercosis, contact your health care provider.

Prevention

Avoid unwashed foods, do not eat uncooked foods while traveling, and always wash fruits and vegetables well.

References

White AC, Brunetti E. Cestodes. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 333.

White AC, Fischer PR. Cysticercosis. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 329.


Review Date: 11/23/2021
Reviewed By: Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
© 1997- adam.comAll rights reserved.