A Boston man thought he was in good health, found out otherwise when he began engaging in strange behavior early one morning.
According to a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the otherwise healthy man fell out of bed at about 4 a.m. and shivered on the floor.
Even stranger: the man seemed confused and “spoke idiocy.”
The man was taken to hospital, but doctors were stumped: he has not been ill lately and there has been no history of epileptic seizures or cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, genitourinary or neurological disorders.
In addition, the man “rarely” drank alcohol or used tobacco and other illegal drugs that may have explained the strange behavior.
Although the patient did not verbally answer questions or follow orders, his gag and cough reflexes were normal.
It was only after doctors performed a neurological examination, laboratory tests and looked at a brain imaging that the man had finally been diagnosed.
It turns out that he had cysticercosis, a tapeworm infection that affects the brain, muscles and other tissues.
Although it is not known how long the man had the condition, doctors said he emigrated from a “rural area” of Guatemala. In addition, the disease is “painless,” and can prevent attracting the body’s immune system for nearly five years, the study said.
However, the disease can cause lumps under the skin and an infected person can suffer from headaches and epileptic seizures.
Once diagnosed, pa patient was admitted to a neuroscience intensive care unit so both his lactic acid level and white cell count could be normalized.
The man also took a medication commonly used to treat epilepsy to control the epileptic seizures before being treated with tapeworm medicine for two weeks along with four weeks of another high-dose parasite solution.