“What are the symptoms of worms in the brain?” asks one of our readers. No worm in particular is specified, nor is any context given, but we will do our best to answer this question nonetheless.
First of all, since our reader provided no context or photographs, but only his question, we cannot know if this question was posed out of mere curiosity, or if this is a health concern. If it is the latter, it should be noted that whatever symptoms we may list of potential worm infestations in the brain do not constitute medical advice or equate to a diagnosis of any kind. As we are not medical professionals, we are not qualified to respond to situations of medical nature with diagnoses or treatment. If our reader has any health concerns, we urge him to consult a physician immediately.
Secondly, the symptoms of any parasitic worm infestation depend upon the species of worm, naturally. It is rare that parasites are able to reach the brain in the human body, much less move around in it, though there are such worms that have been recorded to do this, namely various species of tapeworms, specifically the pork tapeworm and the spirometra tapeworm. The pork tapeworm (known scientifically as Taenia solium) receives its name from how it is transmitted, which is through the ingestion of under-cooked pork. However, it is only through the consumption of taenia solium eggs (that have been in the faeces of someone who has an intestinal tapeworm themselves), rather than undercooked pork, that this species of tapeworm can cause any damage to the nervous system. Eating undercooked pork that is infested with Taenia solium may result in an intestinal infestation, but not in one of the brain.
On the other hand, we have the spirometra tapeworm (spirometra erinaceieuropaei). These tapeworms are fully capable of travelling to the brain and causing damage that is similar to the damage that would be caused if a pork tapeworm did travel to the brain. Once a spirometra tapeworm has moved to the brain, it can cause severe damage to the central nervous system, inducing symptoms such as headaches, seizures, and muscle weakness. In the worst cases, if the worm successfully encysts in the brain, it can cause paralysis, blindness, and death. It should be noted that while we address the worm in the singular, it is usually a colony of worms that infests the brain. Of course, these infestations are not common in general, at all. According to CNN Health, there were only 300 recorded cases of spirometra tapeworm infestations between 1953 and 2013, so it is not something someone should be consistently worried about.
To conclude, the lesson to take away from this is simply to ensure the proper sanitation of one’s home and space, as well as the maintenance of personal hygiene, and also fully cooking any animal-derived products, especially pork products. A lot of these types of infestations can be prevented by simply washing one’s hands before cooking, eating, and doing other activities where one could potentially transfer something to someone. Members of family and roommates are especially susceptible to parasite infestations given the close quarters. Lastly, we wish to repeat how important it is that if our reader has sent us this query as a result of health concerns, he should seek out his doctor or an infectious disease doctor as soon as possible. If this question was not posed for such reasons, then we hope that this article satisfied our reader’s curiosity.