Undercooked Bacon Could Cause Migraines

In Education

A man in Florida experienced severe migraines due to his habit of consuming undercooked bacon, resulting in a parasitic infection known as neurocysticercosis. This case, detailed in the American Journal of Case Reports, led to cysts forming in the man’s brain.

Undercooked pork associated with migraines

The 52-year-old experienced severe migraines for over four months, worsening rapidly. The pain, originating from the back of the skull, intensified and increased in frequency despite regular migraine medications proving ineffective.

Following evalution the man was diagnosed with neurocysticercosis having experienced severe headaches. Brain scans showed numerous cysts filled with larvae scattered throughout his brain. This condition, although common globally, is rare in the United States, particularly for individuals without typical risk factors such as travel to regions with higher rates of food contamination.

The man contracted a tropical brain infection due to his habit of eating undercooked bacon. The infection, neurocysticercosis, is caused by the pork tapeworm Taenia solium. The tapeworm’s eggs can be ingested unknowingly through contaminated food or water, leading to larvae spreading through the body and forming cysts, including in the brain. This can result in neurological problems such as seizures and headaches.

In the U.S., neurocysticercosis is uncommon due to stringent food safety and sanitation measures. However, a 52-year-old’s fondness for undercooked bacon may have led to his tapeworm infection and neurocysticercosis. This is believed to occur through accidental ingestion of tapeworm eggs, possibly due to poor hygiene practices like unwashed hands, termed autoinfection by researchers.

Antiparastic drugs eliminate brain cysts

He underwent treatment involving anti-parasitic drugs and steroids, which successfully eliminated brain cysts and alleviated severe migraines. The treatment, considered unconventional, proved effective, leading to the disappearance of cysts over subsequent months. According to a study in the American Journal of Case Reports by Stephen Carlan and his team, such cases in the United States were previously thought to be rare due to limited exposure or travel history.

Consuming undercooked pork poses a potential risk for neurocysticercosis through self-infection, as indicated in this instance. While encountering contaminated pork in the US is historically rare, this case may have public health significance.

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