What is cysticercosis?

Cysticercosis is an infection caused by the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium. The condition develops when tapeworm eggs, which can be found in contaminated food, enter the body and form cysticeri (cysts). In most cases, the worms stay in the muscles and do not cause symptoms. However, symptoms may be present when the infection is found in the brain, eyes, heart or spine. Although rare in the United States, cysticercosis is common in many developing countries. Treatment may include medications to kill the parasites and powerful anti-inflammatory medications (steroids) to reduce swelling. In severe cases, surgery may be needed to remove the infected area.

Last updated on 05-01-20

Can neurocystocercosis affect a person's appetite or weight?

Weight gain does not appear to be one of the more common symptoms of neurocystocercosis. However, we found two articles that mention weight gain in patients with neurocystocercosis.

Hamed and El-Metaal (2007) report on an unusual case of a woman who experienced weight gain as well as several other symptoms.It is unclear from the article as to whether the weight gain is directly linked to the neurocystocercosis.

In another article, Lino Jr. et al. (2000) describe two cases of patients who they believe are obese due to neurocysticercosis. These patients each had a cysticercus in a specific part of the brain called the anterior hypothalamus. The anterior hypothalamus is involved in influencing control of food and water intake.

Last updated on 05-01-20

What is neurocysticercosis?

Neurocysticercosis refers to a condition in which cysticercosis affects the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms of neurocysticercosis depend on the location and the number of cysticeri (cysts) in the brain. Seizures and headaches are the most common symptoms; however, confusion, inattentiveness, difficulty with balance, and swelling of the brain (hydrocephalus) may also occur. Death may occur with more severe infections. Treatment might be recommended in certain cases of neurocysticercosis and depend on the number and location of cysts. For example, treatment might not be necessary for cases in which only one cysticeri is found. On the other hand, a person who has multiple cysticeri that are not calcified (i.e. dead) may require anti- parasitic treatment. Usually neurological symptoms such as swelling subside if the cysticeri die and shrink.

Last updated on 05-01-20

With whom should I speak if I suspect neurocysticercosis may be affecting someone I know?

If you suspect someone you know has neurocysticercosis, we recommend you speak with a health care provider. The health care provider can either make or rule out the diagnosis and determine whether any treatment is needed.

Last updated on 05-01-20

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