Current Issues in Cysticercosis: Proteins, Proglottids, Pigs, and Privies

  • Ralph T. Bryan


Cysticercosis has existed since ancient times. The life cycle of the cestode responsible for this condition (Taenia solium) is often misunderstood. It is important to distinguish between taeniasis, an intestinal infection with the adult tapeworm, and cysticercosis, a tissue infection with larval T. solium. Humans are suseptible to both conditions. Clinically, cysticercosis exhibits great diversity. Neurocysticercosis is the most clinically significant form of the disease, but cysts can occur in almost any anatomic location. Geographic and age/gender-related differences in clinical manifestations also occur. Diagnosis depends on the appropriate use of radiologic, immunologic, and histopathologic techniques. Both surgical and medical treatments are available. The T. solium taeniasis/cysticercosis complex is endemic throughout the developing world where human consumption of inadequately cooked pork and swine husbandry practices favor transmission. The importance of person-to-person transmission is being increasingly recognized. Recent advances include the use of magnetic resonance imaging and improved immunologic techniques for diagnosis; alternative medical treatment with the new antiparasitic agent, albendazole; and recent epidemiologic insights into risk factors and transmission dynamics in both endemic and nonendemic areas.

Despite considerable progress, many unanswered questions remain. Future efforts should focus on controlled clinical trials, wider application of available technology, and expanded epidemiologic studies. Intervention efforts should emphasize education and social determinants of disease. Finally, better utilization of existing data to foster prevention is crucial. Despite a wide range of clinical and epidemiologic variables, the single most consistent and important aspect of this disease is that it is preventable.


Autochthonous Case Taenia Solium Adult Tapeworm Porcine Cysticercosis Albendazole Therapy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ralph T. Bryan
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious DiseasesCenters for Disease ControlAtlantaUSA

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