Pigs and Parasites: Developing Interventions to End Cycles of Poverty Caused by Taenia Solium and Neurocysticercosis
Neurocysticercosis is a neglected infectious disease caused by larval forms of the pig tapeworm, Taenia solium, infecting people’s brains. Millions of people living in low- income communities in Latin America, Africa, and Asia are believed to be infected. In our exploratory work in impoverished areas of Western China focusing on disease prevalence and burden in children, we have identified widespread disease, including brain infections and resulting cognitive deficits. Here we propose in-depth studies to identify transmission pathways and pilot interventions that will reduce transmission and improve pig husbandry. These interventions will allow children to develop to their full cognitive potential free of neurologic disease and make small family farms more profitable — allowing poor communities to escape the cycle of poverty caused by this disease and providing clear guidelines for eradication.