Brain TapewormsSo you thought tapeworms could only live inside your intestines? Wrong. It turns out, their larvae could be eating holes in your brain right now, and you might never know – until it’s too late.

Brain tapeworms, otherwise known as Neurocysticercosis, are a parasitic disease of the nervous system, and they can attach themselves to your cranium and form large white cysts.

It seems the larvae often travel through a pig’s bloodstream and attach themselves to its muscles – but you eat undercooked pork, there’s a chance you could be eating undercooked tapeworm larvae.

Even though the larva is now inside your body, it still thinks it’s inside the pig. In the ensuing confusion, it travels through your bloodstream and gets stuck inside the fluid-filled cavities found in your brain. It then latches on and hides itself from your immune system.

Worse, these nasty little larvae can form vast networks within your brain and totally mangle its inner workings.

Maryland’s Dr. Theodore Nash sees patients who are suffering from the vicious side-effects caused by brain tapeworms. Some patients lapse into comas, while others lose motor function, experience violent seizures, or even go blind.

Just in case you’re not totally paranoid yet, brain tapeworms are more common than you might think. It’s hard to know exactly how many people suffer from them because they tend to thrive in parts of the world with poor sanitation. While Nash estimates that around 2,000 people have brain tapeworms in the U.S., he says that around 29 million people likely have them in Latin America.

Oh, and those adult tapeworms living in your intestines? They can lay up to 50,000 eggs – apiece.

Fortunately, the disease is treatable, but its only cure, praziquantel, can cause swelling of the brain and lead to seizures down the road.

Brain Tapeworms 1

So how can you protect yourself? The simplest way to make sure you don’t get brain tapeworms is to cook your pork (and any other meat, really) thoroughly – and wash your hands.

More in the video below.