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Eating Raw Pork & Bacon Could Infect You with Brain Worms.
Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist Dr. Patricia A. Farrell -- Psychologist
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ
Friday, May 17, 2024


Brain worms are frightening, can lead to cognitive problems, and are not uncommon worldwide or in the US.

Scientific American

Could you have a brain worm and not know it? Do you have symptoms? Are physicians scratching their heads trying to find a cause for your symptoms? What about memory loss? No one thinks much about such exotic infestations as brain worms, but they are worldwide and in the United States, too.

In certain world regions, parasites can and do affect the brain. Most of us consider these parasites small, external bugs or other organisms that can easily attach to our skin. We forget others will try to live within our bodies, potentially our brains.

Once a brain worm gains access to that sensitive organ, it may live there and become a cyst in the tissue. Then, it may die, as in the case of RFK, Jr. While such severe illnesses are prevalent in other parts of the world, they are rare occurrences in the United States. Neurocysticercosis is a brain disorder resulting from pork tapeworm.

There are several ways these parasites can enter the body; one of them, found in an Australian woman, was via an association with pythons. She never got close to the snakes that lay their eggs in feces near water, but she picked greens, like spinach, from around the lake to cook with them. The woman may have inadvertently ingested worm eggs by eating these wild greens or because they were on her hands or in her kitchen. Her symptoms included worsening depression and memory impairment.

According to a report, an unnamed 52-year-old American man had migraines every week that were not helped by medicine.

The man denied going to high-risk locations to get food. When pressed further, the man admitted that he liked “lightly cooked, non-crispy bacon” and had been eating it for most of his life.

Other means of infestation include contaminated water, improperly or undercooked pork products, such as bacon, and even plants gathered from areas where pythons may leave eggs. The World Health Organization estimates that between 2.56 million and 8.3 million individuals globally are affected by it.

Symptoms of this type of infestation may not show up for 1 to 30 years. What are the usual symptoms? Here is a short list:

  • seizures: most common symptom and the most common cause of seizures in young adults in endemic areas 2
  • headaches
  • hydrocephalus
  • altered mental status
  • neurological deficits
  • Bruns syndrome: caused by cysticerci cysts of the third and fourth ventricle of the brain

Microorganisms (parasites) can live in the body for years as small bumps on tissue. The brain, heart, and muscle all have these cysts. If mothers are infected while they are pregnant, their babies could be born with major brain or eye damage. People who have a weak immune system, like those with AIDS or who are getting treatment for cancer, can also get sick from pet cats or raw meat.

People swimming in infected waters can have the parasite enter their body through the nose. Brain-eating amoebas travel to the brain and destroy brain tissue. The condition is almost always fatal.

How can we protect ourselves?

While there are many instances where we may be unaware that we are in danger from these types of parasites, it always pays to take specific precautions. One family in Brooklyn, New York, was cautious about personal hygiene, yet contracted one of these parasites. How did it happen? A domestic worker in the household who prepared meals had not properly washed her hands before food preparation.

  1. Always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing any food. Certain viruses may also linger on doorknobs and other surfaces that are used frequently by many people.
  2. Do not eat undercooked pork. Notice that one man liked bacon that wasn't crispy, and they found a worm in his brain. So, have your bacon crispy and any other pork thoroughly cooked.
  3. Whenever you go outdoors in areas with weeds or near freshwater sites, remove and clean your shoes and leave them outside your home. If you don't, you may bring the parasites into your home. Even if you don't see them there, they can be present.
  4. Always wear a nose clip when swimming in warm freshwater like a lake. The nose is a wonderful highway to the brain for these parasites. People who enjoy diving into lakes are at special risk because it will drive the water higher up into the nose, with potentially fatal results.
  5. Any symptom, such as migraine, unexplained, sudden depression, changes in memory, or thinking processes that last for more than a day or two, should be thoroughly investigated by a healthcare professional. Any report to them should closely evaluate any areas that could have presented exposure to a parasite.

In areas where it is not normal to expect brain parasites to be present, medical staff may be stymied by symptoms of patients coming into the emergency department for care, such as a case in San Francisco. The man came with ringing in his ears, blurred vision, and a splitting headache. They ran the usual tests, and nothing turned up.

Assuming he had some inflammation, they sent him home with a prescription. He returned days later with the same symptoms and no relief from the medication. Another series of tests, once again, found nothing, and they assumed he might have a rare form of tuberculosis. Another prescription was given, and, once again, he returned with the symptoms.

Finally, they used a new genetic sequencing test and found that he didn't have TB or anything else but worms in his brain.

Symptoms such as the above, and the woman in Australia, may lead healthcare professionals to diagnose a mental disorder or other medical illness, giving little thought to a brain parasite. Care must always be given to the fact that millions worldwide suffer from parasite infestations. One person may walk into a hospital or medical office in the US, and their illness won't be recognized.

In an age of frequent international travel, healthcare professionals must always consider travel as a potential reason to suspect something unusual.

Website: www.drfarrell.net

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Attribution of this material is appreciated.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D.
Title: Licensed Psychologist
Group: Dr. Patricia A. Farrell, Ph.D., LLC
Dateline: Tenafly, NJ United States
Cell Phone: 201-417-1827
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