If you, like so many of us, like to take a couple of minutes every day to learn something that will make you scream and cry and lock yourself in an airtight room where nothing can ever touch you again, then good news: there’s a chance that, right this minute, a tapeworm is living inside your brain, wriggling around like Slimey from Sesame Street, making a delicious meal out of your precious, irreplaceable grey cells. How did it get there? Strap in, kids, because the answer to that question is good for a second round of personal horror.
Tapeworm brain: grosser than it sounds
Neurocysticercosis, or “a noggin full of tapeworm” for the bridge and tunnel crowd, is a big sack of bad dreams. According to the CDC, over a thousand new cases are diagnosed in the United States every year, costing your average Joe a cool $37,600 to treat. It’s the number one reason that adults suddenly become epileptic. It’s also, frustratingly enough, 100% preventable, and could be eradicated tomorrow if we weren’t all so gross.
See, tapeworms live a charmed life, frequently starting out inside of a pig, then laying eggs which are passed on through the animal’s waste. While consuming pork is a decent way to get your standard, run of the mill parasitic infection, they can only get into your brain in a manner that’s somehow even more disturbing than a mouthful of undercooked ham.
Yes, in order to make it into your tasty, tasty brain, tapeworms need to enter your body as microscopic eggs. The same eggs, you’ll recall, which are magically whisked into existence through fecal matter. And since said fecal matter is difficult to find in pig form for city folk, that means that the human ingestion of tapeworm eggs usually comes from consuming, in one form or another, people poop.
So to sum up: if a person who has a tapeworm gets their tapeworm egg infused dung in your mouth, you can wind up with a tapeworm of your very own swallowing your brain bit by bit. Or, and this is just an idea, everybody could just wash their damned hands.
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