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Are There Brain-Eating Worms In Texas?

This week Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said that a doctor found a dead parasite worm in his brain, this has raised a lot of questions: are they really brain-eating worms? Are there brain worms in Texas? Do I have a brain worm?

First, according to RFK’s description, he had an infection with tapeworm larvae, which is unfortunately more common than you think.

Tapeworm infections occur when a person swallows tapeworm eggs, which can be present in food or water contaminated with feces. The eggs then hatch in the intestines and travel to various parts of the body, including the brain.

The disease, known as cysticercosis, is more common in other tissues such as muscle, but some larvae can get into the brain and cause neurocysticercosis.

Neurocysticercosis is rare, causing about 1000 hospitalizations per year in the U.S., but there are estimates that there could be about 41,000-169,000 infected people. The infection disproportionately affects Hispanics and immigrants, but other people can get the disease.

The Center of Disease Control Prevention said that the states with the most reports of neurocysticercosis are New York, California, Texas, Oregon, and Illinois. So living in Texas might also be a risk factor.

Four years ago, an adult tapeworm was removed from the head of a patient in Austin.

Symptoms of neurocysticercosis include nausea, confusion, headache, and seizures. These are fairly common symptoms, so whenever you get a headache, do not think of tapeworms as the first cause.

Tapeworms are not the only brain-eating parasites in Texas, however. Last summer, a swimmer died from an infection caused by a brain-eating amoeba. Texas is the state with the most cases of brain-eating bacteria infections in the country.

Fortunately, these infections are far less common, with only 40 cases in Texas since 1962.

Brain parasites are rare, so you can rest assured that there is a really high probability that you will not have one of these diseases. However, you can take extra precautions by eating in clean and hygienic places, not eating raw pork, and not swimming in contaminated water in the summer.

Written by RA News staff.


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