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Researchers Criticize Guidelines for Pork Tapeworm Treatment

The Infectious Diseases Society of America and American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene recently published new guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of neurocysticercosis (NC), a parasitic infection that affects up to 8 million people worldwide. The disease is caused by Taenia solium — a tapeworm found in pork — and affects up to 8 million people worldwide. It can cause neurological symptoms like seizures and epilepsy, and lead to 50,000 deaths each year.

Professor Elizabeth Kelvin, of CUNY’s Graduate School of Public Health & Healthy Policy, and Matthew Romo, a research scientist with the school’s Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health, are among a group of researchers criticizing those recommendations, claiming they’re based on poor or limited evidence. They published their response in Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics.

Kelvin and her co-authors praised the societies for bringing much needed attention to the disease, which is associated with poor sanitation and is highly endemic in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Yet they worried that the recommendations were not based on enough strong research. 

Some of the guidelines were based on one clinical trial that was stopped early, and other recommendations were made with the admission from the societies that there is little evidence to support them. What’s more, said Kelvin, the recommendations “are targeted only to patients in the USA and Canada, two countries that see only a small fraction of all neurocysticercosis cases.” 

The researchers suggested that doctors approach some of the recommendations in the new guidelines with caution, and they called for the establishment of gold-standard guidelines that can be used and adapted for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with NC worldwide.

“The lack of research on neurocysticercosis has forced clinicians to make diagnosis and treatment decisions without adequate empirical evidence to support them,” Kelvin said. “We hope our review will encourage more research into the areas where evidence is lacking.”

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Explore This Work
“New guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of neurocysticercosis: a difficult proposal for patients in endemic countries”

Work By
Elizabeth Kelvin (Interim Assistant Dean for Curriculum Innovation) | Profile 1
Matthew Romo (Research Assistant, ISPH) | Profile 1

Colleges and Schools
Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy

Bonus Content
“CUNY SPH researchers critique new guidelines regarding neurocysticercosis” (SPH News)

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