Woman's Week-Long Headache Turns Out to Be Brain Cyst Full of Tapeworm Larvae

The MRI showed a cyst surgeons later discovered to be filled with tapeworm larvae.
The MRI showed a cyst surgeons later discovered to be filled with tapeworm larvae. The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

An Australian woman who suffered a headache for about a week discovered the source of her pain was actually a cyst filled with tapeworm larvae lodged in her brain. The 25-year-old barista's case became the first to develop locally, as she had never previously travelled overseas and was considered at low or no risk, according to The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

She has had ongoing symptoms for nearly seven years. The woman, whose identity was not revealed, reported getting headaches two or three times a month, and took medication to stop the pain.

Most recently, though, her headache lasted longer than a week and she said this time, it affected her vision, including blurring of her central vision.

Doctors thought an MRI scan showed a tumor on her brain, but when performing surgery on the woman, they discovered it was instead a cyst filled with tapeworm larvae. 

The rare condition that involves neural symptoms is called neurocysticercosis, and can be fatal if left untreated.

Officials believe she may have had accidentally swallowed tapeworm eggs, which are normally found in human’s intestines and can be transmitted by undercooked pork.

The woman successfully had the larvae removed in surgery and is expected to recover without any further treatment.

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