Zhu Zhongfa had been constantly complaining about seizures and loss of consciousness for weeks before doctors found tapeworms in his brain and chest.
A doctor discovered hundreds of tapeworms festering inside the brain and chest of a 43-year-old man after eating undercooked pork. The patient had been constantly complaining about seizures and loss of consciousness for weeks, but an accurate diagnosis was made long after this, reports Fox News. The Chinese national, identified as Zhu Zhongfa, had allegedly consumed half-cooked pork which was discovered to be contaminated with Taenia solium, a parasitic tapeworm. There were more than 700 tapeworms found in his body, as reported by Pearlvideo.
A 46-year-old construction worker in China suffering from seizures turned out to have tapeworms in his brain — suspected to be the result of eating undercooked meat https://t.co/TaZcsP5jgi— CNN Philippines (@cnnphilippines) 28 November 2019
Zhongfa, a construction worker from Quzhou, in eastern Zhejiang province, kept experiencing headaches and seizure-like symptoms for quite some time. But it wasn't until his coworkers found him suffering one such seizure that he was rushed to a nearby hospital, where a CT scan revealed intracranial calcifications and lesions in his skull. Worried about medical costs, Zhongfa denied going forward with further examinations. However, when his symptoms still persisted he approached doctors at the Zhejiang University hospital, who diagnosed him with neurocysticercosis, i.e. tapeworms in the brain, after an MRI scan. Further scans revealed the presence of tapeworms in his lungs and chest.
According to a report by CNN, Zhongfa, told the doctors that he had consumed a hot pot containing an assortment of raw meats and vegetables (which is cooked in a piping hot broth right before eating). Due to the deep color of the spicy broth, that man couldn't tell whether the meat was completely cooked or not before eating it. "I only simmered the meat a little," said the patient during an interview. "The bottom of the pot with the spicy broth was red, so you couldn't see if the meat had been cooked thoroughly." Unfortunately, the pork and mutton he ate were not cooked through.
"Different patients respond [differently] to the infection depending on where the parasites occupy," said Dr. Huang Jianrong, a doctor at Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine, "In this case, he had seizures and lost consciousness, but others with cysts in their lungs might cough a lot." Jianrong explained how the larvae had entered Zhongfa’s body through his digestive system and then traveled upward through his bloodstream reaching his brain. He was diagnosed with cysticercosis as well as neurocysticercosis and was immediately started on antiparasitic drugs and other medications to help stop the parasite causing any further damage to his organs. Although the pressure on the patient's brain was relieved and Zhongfa was doing well just after a week of medication, Jianrong added that long-term effects of this huge infestation could not be determined.
"Taeniasis is the intestinal infection of the adult tapeworm. If left untreated, a more serious condition known as cysticercosis develops as T. solium larvae invade body tissues. When larvae build up in the central nervous system, muscles, skin, and eyes, it leads to neurocysticercosis – the most severe form of the disease and a common cause of seizures worldwide," according to a report by WHO. If humans consume undercooked food, especially pork, or tapeworm eggs contaminated water, or if they engage in poor hygiene practices, they are infected. Now, cysticercosis doesn't have standardized symptoms as it completely depends upon the location and number cysts involved, as well as the individual's immune system response. But a few common symptoms that neurocysticercosis is said to cause include seizures, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and changes in vision.
People who are infected with T. solium excrete feces containing tapeworm eggs, which then fester in unsanitary areas. When animals like pigs and cows feed at highly contaminated areas containing the parasite, it enters their bodies and survives there due to the moist conditions in their bodies. The parasite's eggs hatch in the intestines and then migrate to the muscle where it develops in cysticerci and infests the body up to many years.
In order to protect oneself from this infestation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a food thermometer to guarantee different types of meat are cooked appropriately to kill the germs: Throw out marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat juices, which can spread germs to cooked foods. Use clean utensils and a clean plate to remove cooked meat from the grill, writes the CDC, cautioning people about their food habits. Here are the temperatures at which different types of meat should be cooked as recommended by the CDC: When smoking, keep temperatures inside the smoker at 225°F to 300°F to keep meat a safe temperature while it cooks.
145°F – whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (stand-time of 3 minutes at this temperature)
145°F – fish
160°F – hamburgers and other ground beef
165°F – all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs.