The purpose of this study is to evaluate, treat and follow patients with cysticercosis, an infection with the larval form of the pork tapeworm, T. solium. When people ingest cysts of T. solium eggs, cysts develop in the muscles, brain and other organs. The cysts enlarge and cause inflammation, usually in the brain. Patients may develop seizures, headache, nausea, vomiting, inability to walk, poor vision due to enlargement of the brain, and increased pressure in the brain. Other neurological problems may develop depending on the location of the cysts. The drugs praziquantel and albendazole are used to treat cysticercosis, but it is not clear if these drugs are effective in all patients, such as those with calcified cysts or brain enlargement.
Patients with suspected or confirmed cysticercosis may be eligible for this study. Participants will be hospitalized for 2 _ to 3 weeks and will take either praziquantel or albendazole by mouth for 2 weeks. They may receive a corticosteroid to lessen the side effects of the drug therapy. Patients will be evaluated with medically indicated tests and procedures that may include:
- Blood tests.
- X-rays of the head and long bones.
- Electroencephalogram - recording of the electrical activity of the brain
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) - examination of the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. For this procedure, a local anesthetic is given and a needle is inserted in the space between the bones (vertebrae) in the lower back. About 2 tablespoons of fluid is collected through the needle.
- Eye examination.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine the brain. MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves instead of X-rays to demonstrate structural and chemical changes in the brain. During the scan, the patient lies on a table in a narrow cylinder (the scanner). He or she can speak with a staff member via an intercom system at all times during the procedure.
- Computed tomography (CT) to examine the brain. CT can be done from different angles and allows the doctor to view the brain in small sections in 3-dimensions. The patient lies on a table with the head positioned in the CT scanner.
Some of the tests may be repeated on the last day of therapy and at 3 and 6 months or longer after therapy.