The disease manifests itself in epilepsy-like seizures when the worm settled in the brain releases certain toxins, causing severe trauma to the patient.
According to Dr Prabjit Singh, a neurologist with Escorts Multi-Speciality Hospital and Adlakha Hospital, 2-3 cases were being reported in both these hospitals daily.
The neurologist said he had treated almost 100 cases in the last six months. The medication for the disease needed to continue for two years to eradicate the worm from the body, he added.
The worm completes its cycle in the pig. The faecal matter or stool of pork/ pig-meat consumer carries the worm to the sewerage. The water contaminated by this kind of sewerage disposal is mostly used to irrigate fields. The worm then settles in vegetable leaves.
The neurologist, who had undertaken research in this field in the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, says, “Cabbage is the most vulnerable to house this worm. Since the vegetable is used in raw in salads and fast foods much washing, the worm continues to subsist in its womb.
The consumer of the infected cabbage thus gets infected when the worm lodges itself in the intestines, he adds.
“The worm can also affect any and multiple muscles in the body and cause seizures, frequent headaches and loss of vision when lodged in the eye. The disease is referred to as Nuero-Cysti-Cercosis (NCC) in medical terms, which also manifests itself as frequent body aches and swellings under the skin.”
The life cycle of the worm can only be cut by controlling the population of pigs, hygienic disposal of faecal waste and checking samples of pork sellers, say experts.
The farmers too need to be made aware of not irrigating their fields with untreated water, they add.