Headaches are a very common ailment among people. All of us have had it one time or the other. Some people are haunted by constant headaches throughout their life. But for the Texas man Gerardo Moctezuma headaches almost killed him. What’s even bizarre is that the headache he had was caused by a tapeworm larva that was living in his brain.
Moctezuma has been suffering from head-splitting headaches for a few years until the headaches sent him in fainting spells. That’s when he sought help from Dr Jordan Amadio, a neurosurgeon at Austin’s Ascension Seton Medical Center. Amadio identified the problem and had Moctezuma undergo an emergency brain surgery to remove the tapeworm.
The cyst of tapeworms could’ve killed him if he had waited for any later to seek help, said the good doctor. MRI images had revealed life-threatening pressure development in Moctezuma’s brain – all thanks to the tapeworm larvae that became lodged in his brain’s fourth ventricle, filled with cerebrospinal fluid.
In his statement to CNN, the doctor said “We did get to him just in time. It’s a condition called neurocysticercosis, which can cause neurological symptoms when larval cysts develop in the brain. The lesion in Gerardo Moctezuma’s brain was caused by tapeworm larvae. They’d likely lived in his body for years.”
According to the CDC, there are around 1,000 cases of neurocysticercosis in the US every year. But as strange as it is tapeworms are not generally common in the US. Moctezuma moved into the US fourteen years ago. His doctor suspects that the parasite might have entered his body from there. It means the larvae has been living in his body for at least fourteen years.
The parasite is transmitted by consuming uncooked pork as pigs are intermediary hosts for tapeworms. The infection can also occur when a person comes in contact with food, water and soil which is contaminated by tapeworm eggs.
The doctor says that Moctezuma has fulled recovered after brain surgery. “He’s headache-free and back to work,” said the doctor. Amadio had managed to remove the cyst is one piece after opening a part of his skull near the brain stem. He has informed that the best line of defence is washing hands with soap before eating and only eating food you can ensure was cooked in good sanitary conditions.
“This can be fascinating, but also important from a public health standpoint,” Amadio said. “People need to be aware – these are infections, not just in the developing world but here in the US. It’s imperative to take universal precautions.”