How to Recognize and Treat Cysticercosis (Pork Tapeworm Infection)

Cysticercosis is an infection that occurs when the pork tapeworm larvae enter the body and form cysticerci (cysts). Most often the infection is found in rural, developing countries with poor hygiene and where pigs roam freely and consume human feces. Tapeworm eggs are distributed via food, water, or surfaces contaminated with feces. The following will help you recognize and treat this tapeworm infection.


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    Know the symptoms of cysticercosis. Signs and symptoms of the infection depend on where the infection is located and the number of cysticerci in the body.
    • Cysticerci in the muscles:

      • In most cases there are no symptoms when cysticerci are located in the muscles. However you may feel bumps under the skin.
    • Cysticerci in the eyes:

      • This infection is rare. If this does occur, cysticerci float in the eye and cause blurred or disrupted vision. Infection may also cause swelling or detachment of the retina.
    • Cysticerci in the brain, spinal cord (neurocysticercosis):

      • The most common symptoms are headaches and seizures. Disorientation, lack of awareness to the environment or other people, inadequate equilibrium, and swelling of the brain (hydrocephalus) can also occur.
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    Be aware that symptoms can occur months to years after infection, most often when the cysts are in the final stage of dying.
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    Know that the infection is primarily treated with anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory drugs combined. Surgery may be required to treat infection in the eyes, in cases that do not respond to drug treatment, or to reduce swelling of the brain.


  • Cysticercosis is not spread person-to-person. You become infected by accidentally swallowing the tapeworm eggs.
  • Blood tests are used to help diagnose an infection, but they are not always accurate. Tell your health care provider if you suspect you may have ingested pork tapeworm eggs. They may ask that you provide several stool samples for testing.


  • If someone has neurocysticercosis, death can occur suddenly where the infections are large in number.

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Categories: Infectious Diseases