Severe seizures in pigs naturally infected with Taenia solium in Tanzania

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Neurocysticercosis (NCC) caused by Taenia solium is a serious neurological disease. In humans neurological symptoms have been thoroughly studied and documented, however, there is limited information on clinical signs in pigs infected with T. solium cysticerci. Among the scientific community, it is in fact believed that pigs with NCC rarely show neurological signs. The aim of this study was to describe clinical manifestations associated with NCC in pigs and correlate the manifestations to the number and distribution of cysticerci in brains of naturally infected pigs in Tanzania. Sixteen infected and 15 non-infected control pigs were observed for 14 days during daylight hours, and subsequently videotaped for another 14 consecutive days using close circuit television cameras. All occurrences of abnormal behaviour (trembling, twitching, mouth and ear paralysis, ataxia, dribbling, salivating, eye blinking, walking in circles) were recorded. At the end of the recording period, pigs were slaughtered and their brains dissected, cysticerci counted and locations noted. During the recording period, two infected pigs were observed having seizures. Some of the observed autonomic signs during a seizure were chewing motions with foamy salivation and ear stiffening. Motor signs included tonic muscle contractions followed by a sudden diminution in all muscle function leading to collapse of the animal. Stereotypic walking in circles was observed on several occasions. At dissection, both pigs had a high number of brain cysticerci (241 and 247 cysticerci). The two pigs with seizures were also older (36 months) compared to the others (18.3 months, ± 8.2 standard deviation). Results of this study have shown that pigs with NCC can develop clinical signs and suffer from seizures like humans with symptomatic NCC. Results of this study could potentially open up a new experimental pathway to explore the aetiology of neurological symptoms in humans with NCC associated epilepsy.
TidsskriftVeterinary Parasitology
Sider (fra-til)67 - 71
Antal sider5
StatusUdgivet - 15 apr. 2016

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