CT scan of a patient with cysticercosis.
Cysticercosis is a tissue infection caused by the young form of the pork tapeworm. People may have few or no symptoms for years. In some cases, particularly in Asia, solid lumps of between one and two centimetres may develop under the skin. After months or years these lumps can become painful and swollen and then resolve.
Cysticercosis is usually acquired by eating food or drinking water contaminated by tapeworm eggs from human feces. Among foods, uncooked vegetables are the major source. The tapeworm eggs are present in the feces of a person infected with the adult worms, a condition known as taeniasis. Taeniasis, in the strict sense, is a different disease and is due to eating cysts in poorly cooked pork. People who live with someone with the pork tapeworm have a greater risk of getting cysticercosis.
Infection can be effectively prevented by personal hygiene and sanitation, this includes cooking pork well, proper toilets and sanitary practices, and improved access to clean water. Treating those with taeniasis is important to prevent spread. Treating the disease when it does not involve the nervous system may not be required. Treatment of those with neurocysticercosis may be with the medications praziquantel or albendazole.
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