Neurocysticercosis: A Treatable Cause of Epilepsy

Epilepsy Notes

Andrew N. Wilner, MD


September 06, 2013

In This Article

Epidemiology of Neurocysticercosis

Although neurocysticercosis may seem an exotic disease for many physicians practicing in the United States, it should be considered as a cause of epilepsy particularly in Americans who have traveled abroad and in those who have emigrated from endemic regions, such as Africa, Eastern Europe, Mexico, South America, and southeast Asia.[5] In Ethiopia, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, infection rates are approximately 10%, with even higher infection rates in Madagascar.[3] Because of the enhanced mobility of the global population, the prevalence of neurocysticercosis in the United States may be increasing.[2] In a prospective study of 1801 patients seen between 1996 and 1998 in 11 US emergency departments, 2.1% of the patients with seizures had neurocysticercosis.[2]

When I was an internal medicine resident at Los Angeles County Hospital, in Los Angeles, California, it was not uncommon to diagnose neurocysticercosis as a cause of epilepsy on the basis of brain calcifications seen on CT. Many of these patients had recently arrived in Los Angeles from Mexico or other Latin American countries. Indeed, neurocysticercosis is the most common cause of adult-onset epilepsy in Latin America.[6]


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