Skip to comments.Rare brain worms spread by unsanitary cooks[Texas]
Posted on 01/12/2007 2:27:10 PM PST by SwinneySwitch
There was a time when Renaldo Ramirez, of Houston, didn't like to cook.
The 50-year-old ate most of his meals at mobile kitchens until he found out food contaminated with tapeworm eggs almost killed him.
"He's scared now. He's scared of any food from outside," Ramirez said through his sister who interpreted for him.
Ramirez is a tile worker who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador 20 years ago.
"It was a mild headache, but it wouldn't go away," he said. "It was just there and it wouldn't go away with Tylenol."
Doctors at a clinic gave him medicine for high blood pressure. A few days later he passed out and didn't wake up for eight days.
Dr. Aaron Mohanty found a cyst of tapeworm larvae living in Ramirez's brain. If it hadn't been found, the doctor said, Ramirez could have been dead within hours from the disease called cysticercosis. The disease is usually found in rural parts of developing countries with poor hygiene habits. However, Ramirez was the fourth patient Mohanty treated within a few months.
"The cycle starts with a human that's infected with the tapeworm," said Dr. Luis Ostrosky, of the UT Houston Medical Center.
The tapeworm eggs are spread by a human host who doesn't practice good hygiene after using the restroom. An unsuspecting victim then eats the contaminated food, Ostrosky said.
"These eggs hatch in the intestine and go through the gut-wall and into the circulation where they get stuck somewhere," Ostrosky said.
Ramirez's cyst was removed through a small incision. During his recovery Ramirez learned to cook and now prepares his own food.
There have been cases of cysticercosis in South Texas, San Antonio's Metro Health District said, but it is not a major outbreak.
The best way to avoid the disease, doctors say, is to wash your hands, cook meats thoroughly, especially pork, and to wash fruits and vegetables.
Golly! Who knew that cheap labor could be so expensive?
I sure hope your practice doesn’t include much treatment of parasitic diseases, because you are wrong. I suspect you weren’t paying much attention to the lectures on parasitology that you may or may not have had in medical school. Does the term visceral larval migrans ring a bell? Did anyone tell you about the peculiarities of Taenia solium and how its immature stages can invade the tissues of humans (giving rise in some unfortunate cases to “brain worm”? How about hydatid disease? And a whole bunch of other worms. Better borrow an introductory text book and bone up on the subject before you kill someone.
And I would say that the best way to avoid the disease would be to develop stricter regulation of overcrowded hog operations, but then again, I’m no expert on illegal immigration...