A 'neglected parasitic infection' comes to light

A little-known parasitic infection in the brain has come into the spotlight following presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr.'s admission that he once suffered from it, NBC News reported May 8.

Neurocysticercosis is a brain infection linked to larvae from pork tapeworms. Although rare, it hospitalizes roughly 1,000 to 2,000 people every year in the U.S. Infection occurs after people eat raw or undercooked pork that carries a tapeworm. The tapeworm sheds eggs that then contaminate food or surfaces if people do not properly wash their hands. If swallowed, the eggs hatch and move from the intestine to the brain where they form fluid-filled pockets that resemble tiny clear balloons about a centimeter in diameter.

The condition is poorly understood by providers, and the CDC considers it a "neglected parasitic infection."

Mr. Kennedy brought the infection to light after telling The New York Times that in 2012, physicians found an abnormal spot on his brain amid symptoms of memory loss and mental fogginess. A physician concluded it was caused by a worm that got into his brain and died. He said he contracted the worm while traveling in Africa, South America and Asia for work as an environmental advocate. The issue was resolved and Mr. Kennedy is now in good health, according to the report.

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