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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Cysticercosis


Other Names for this Disease

  • Neurocysticercosis
  • Submacular cysticercosis
  • Taeniasis
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.

Your Question

My son presented with a sudden onset of partial complex seizures and a friend provided us with information about neurocysticercosis. My son has not yet been tested, but I would like to know if this disease has an affect on a person's appetite or weight?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

What is cysticercosis?

Cysticercosis is an infectious disorder caused by the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium. Infection occurs when the tapeworm larvae enter the body and form cysticeri (cysts). The tapeworm eggs are spread through food, water, or other surfaces contaminated with feces. The signs and symptoms vary depending on the location and number of cysticeri in the affected person's body. Symptoms can present months to years after the infection. Diagnosing cysticercosis can be challenging and may involve several test, including MRI or CT brain scans and blood tests. Although treatment is available and may include anti-parasitic drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs, and/or surgery, it is not always necessary.[1]
Last updated: 4/12/2010

What is neurocysticercosis?

Neurocysticercosis refers to a condition in which cysticercosis affects the brain and spinal cord. The symptoms of neurocysticercosis depend on the location and the number of cysticeri (cysts) in the brain. Seizures and headaches are the most common symptoms; however, confusion, inattentiveness, difficulty with balance, and swelling of the brain (hydrocephalus) may also occur. Death may occur with more severe infections. Treatment might be recommended in certain cases of neurocysticercosis and depend on the number and location of cysts. For example, treatment might not be necessary for cases in which only one cysticeri is found. On the other hand, a person who has multiple cysticeri that are not calcified (i.e. dead) may require anti-parasitic treatment. Usually neurological symptoms such as swelling subside if the cysticeri die and shrink.[1]
Last updated: 4/12/2010

Can neurocystocercosis affect a person's appetite or weight?

Weight gain does not appear to be one of the more common symptoms of neurocystocercosis. However, we found two articles that mention weight gain in patients with neurocystocercosis.

Hamed and El-Metaal (2007) report on an unusual case of a woman who experienced weight gain as well as several other symptoms.It is unclear from the article as to whether the weight gain is directly linked to the neurocystocercosis.[2]  

In another article, Lino Jr. et al. (2000) describe two cases of patients who they believe are obese due to neurocysticercosis. These patients each had a cysticercus in a specific part of the brain called the anterior hypothalamus. The anterior hypothalamus is involved in influencing control of food and water intake.[3]
Last updated: 4/12/2010

With whom should I speak if I suspect neurocysticercosis may be affecting someone I know?

If you suspect someone you know has neurocysticercosis, we recommend you speak with a health care provider. The health care provider can either make or rule out the diagnosis and determine whether any treatment is needed.
Last updated: 4/12/2010

References
  • Division of Parasitic Diseases. Parasitic Disease Information. Cysticercosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 31, 2008; http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/cysticercosis/factsht_cysticercosis.htm. Accessed 4/12/2010.
  • Hamed SA, El-Metaal HE. Unusual presentations of neurocysticercosis. Acta. Neurol. Scand.. 2007 Mar;
  • Lino Jr. RS, Reis LC, Reis MA, Gobbi H, Teixeira VPA. Hypothalamic neurocysticercosis as a possible cause of obesity. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 2000;
Other Names for this Disease
  • Neurocysticercosis
  • Submacular cysticercosis
  • Taeniasis
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.