A 52-year-old man in Florida with severe migraines that did not improve with medication was diagnosed with neurocysticercosis after doctors discovered tapeworm larvae in his brain. The tapeworm infection stemmed from the patient's consumption of undercooked bacon.

According to a report published in the American Journal of Case Reports, the unidentified man went to the doctor after his migraines suddenly worsened over four months and started to occur almost weekly.

In a CT scan, doctors found multiple cysts throughout the patient's brain that appeared like fluid-filled sacs. These were initially thought to be from a rare neurologic condition called congenital neuroglial cysts, and the patient was admitted for neurosurgical consultation.

Further tests at the hospital revealed that the cysts were parasitic tapeworm larvae residing in his brain, leading to a diagnosis of neurocysticercosis.

The man did not travel to high-risk areas and did not have close contact with pigs or live in an area with poor sanitation. However, the patient had a habit of eating lightly cooked, non-crispy bacon for most of his life.

Cysticercosis is an illness caused by infection with the eggs of the parasite Taenia solium, also known as the pork tapeworm. Humans contract the infection from eating food or drinking water contaminated with the parasite eggs, or from not washing hands after touching the poop of a human tapeworm carrier. The eggs hatch in the gut, and the tapeworm larvae can travel to other parts of the body to form cysts.

When cysticercosis involves the central nervous system, the condition is neurocysticercosis. It is the most common parasitic infection of the brain and a leading cause of epilepsy in the developing world.

"It can only be speculated but given our patient's predilection for undercooked pork and benign exposure history, we favor that his cysticercosis was transmitted via autoinfection after improper handwashing after he had contracted taeniasis himself from his eating habits," the report said.

T. solium taeniasis occurs when a person eats undercooked pork infected with the larval parasite, which grows into an adult tapeworm in the gut. The patient may not have signs and sometimes experience digestive problems, including abdominal pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and upset stomach.

If taeniasis results in neurocysticercosis, the symptoms can vary depending on the number, size, stage, location of the larvae, and the person's immune response. Symptoms may include chronic headaches, blindness, seizures, epilepsy, hydrocephalus (fluid buildup in the brain), stroke, meningitis, and neuropsychiatric dysfunction.

Depending on where the cyst is developed in the nervous system, the patient is at risk of complications such as cognitive decline, difficulty speaking and walking, muscular paralysis, and weakness.

The patient in the report underwent successful treatment with a combination of anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic medications, including dexamethasone, albendazole, and praziquantel. This helped in the regression of lesions and the improvement of headaches.