Days later, the man started feeling dizzy, having headaches and experiencing epilepsy-like symptoms such as limb twitching and mouth foaming while trying to sleep at night, according to the report.
Co-workers witnessed one of Zhu’s episodes and dialed for emergency help. He was seen at a hospital where scans and tests showed that he had multiple intracranial calcifications, abnormal deposits of calcium in blood vessels to the brain; and multiple intracranial lesions, according to researchers.
Medical staff wanted to examine him further, but he dismissed their concerns because he didn’t want to spend more money, according to the report.
The symptoms that sent Zhu to the hospital persisted after he left, researchers reported. He became frightened.
He spoke with his relatives about seeking medical treatment before deciding on care at the First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University Medical College.
Huang Jianrong, the hospital’s chief doctor, consulted Zhu and learned that he had eaten pork and mutton not too long ago, according to the report.
The chief physician recommended an MRI, which showed the man to be suffering from multiple brain lesions and tapeworms in the brain, the report stated.
The tapeworms were the root of Zhu’s symptoms, but he was confused about how his hot pot meal led to a brain invaded by parasites, researchers said.
Jianrong explained to Zhu that the meat for the hot pot probably was tainted with larval tapeworms that survived because of the pork and mutton being improperly cooked, according to the report.
Zhu admitted to just simmering the meat, explaining that the bottom of the spicy pot was red, which obstructed his ability to see if the meat was thoroughly cooked, researchers wrote.
The construction worker fully recovered after doctors dewormed and reduced the pressure on his brain, the report said.
Researchers wrote that because the brain has the largest blood circulation, it is often affected by the ingestion and infection of parasites entering the body through contaminated meat or water. The impact, they said, can cause severe brain damage and be fatal.
Neurocysticercosis occurs when a person swallows microscopic eggs passed in the feces of a person who has intestinal pork tapeworm, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It can be prevented by practicing good hygiene such as hand washing and treating people infected with intestinal tapeworm.
The parasitic infection mainly affects people who live in subsistence farming communities in developing countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to the World Health Organization.
In March, the New England Journal of Medicine published a paper about an 18-year-old man in India who died of neurocysticercosis after experiencing seizures and confusion.
More recently, a 42-year-old New York woman was diagnosed with the same parasitic infection when doctors went in to remove a cancerous tumor from her brain only to find a tapeworm instead.
The CDC estimates that there are about 1,000 cases of neurocysticercosis in the United States each year, with most cases being reported in New York, California, Texas, Oregon and Illinois.