Doctors in New Delhi have found an eight-year-old girl's brain infected by more than 100 tapeworm eggs. The parents of the young girl admitted her to Fortis Hospital after she endured severe headaches and epileptic seizures for six months.

Local media reports said the girl was earlier diagnosed with neurocysticercosis. CT scan showed the presence of more than 100 cysts in the brain. The tapeworm eggs reached her brain through the bloodstream from the stomach. The eggs caused swelling in her brain due to which she required prolonged steroids that resulted in gaining 44 pounds. 

"Her brain scan showed more than a 100 white dots, formed due to tapeworm eggs. Such an infection is caused by accidentally eating foods infested by tapeworms. When eggs reach the brain through the nervous system they cause neurocysticercosis, which is characterized by a severe headache, epileptic seizures and confusion," said Dr. Praveen Gupta, director of Neurology, Fortis Hospital, according to local daily the Times of India.

The doctor said the girl was almost unconscious when she was admitted to the hospital. 

"Her treatment began by reducing her swelling with decongestants and later steroids and gradually the cysts (tapeworm eggs) were treated by starting anthelmintic therapy with albendazole under observation. Later the steroids and antihelminthic therapy were weaned off. She lost all the weight gain and was able to walk and resume school," Dr. Gupta further said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes tapeworm infection of the central nervous system as a leading cause of epilepsy. 

"Tapeworm infestation of the brain is caused by eating improperly washed fruits, vegetables and undercooked meat infected by the pork tapeworm," said Dr. Gupta.

Sometimes tapeworms cause symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hunger or loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies

In rare cases, tapeworms can lead to serious complications such as blocking the intestine, or smaller ducts in the intestine. It can further move from the stomach to other parts of the body, including the brain.

"We had absolutely no idea that our healthy and cheerful daughter could ever get such a dreadful disease. But I think we are extremely lucky to have reached here and get right treatment," the girl's father reportedly said.