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July 26, 2021

Neurocysticercosis as an Eradicable Cause of Epilepsy: A Plan and Actions Are Needed

Author Affiliations
  • 1Cysticercosis Unit, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Neurológicas, Lima, Peru
  • 2Center for Global Health, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru
  • 3School of Veterinary Medicine, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima, Peru
  • 4Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
JAMA Neurol. 2021;78(9):1045-1046. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2021.2349

Between 1930 and 1960, 450 British soldiers who were being assessed for epilepsy and other neurological disease after returning from duty in India were found to be affected by neurocysticercosis (NCC), the infection of the human nervous system by the cystic larvae of the pork tapeworm Taenia solium.1 This unexpectedly frequent finding brought attention to a globally common but yet poorly known disease. Introduction of the computed tomography scan in the 1970s substantially improved the premortem diagnosis of NCC and slowly began to unveil the scope of the problem. T solium is now known to be endemic in wide areas of the world, including Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia, including the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and large regions of China.2 Endemicity of T solium is deeply rooted in poverty and involves domestic pig raising and poor sanitary conditions. As such, the burden of neurologic disease associated with continued transmission falls mainly on impoverished rural populations. However, NCC cases are diagnosed worldwide, even where transmission is not endemic.2

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