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A population-based, case-control study of Taenia solium taeniasis and cysticercosis

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A two-phase study was conducted in a rural community in Honduras, to evaluate the association between neurocysticercosis (NCC) diagnosed by computed tomography (CT), epilepsy, seropositivity for antibodies to the cysticerci of Taenia solium [determined by enzyme-linked-immunoelectrotransfer-blot (EITB) assays], intestinal infection with this parasite, and various epidemiological factors. Of the 480 individuals studied in the first phase, 17% were seropositive and 2.5% supplied faecal samples which contained T. solium eggs. In the second phase, 148 individuals (74 of the seropositive subjects from the first phase and 74 matched controls from the seronegatives) underwent CT and neurological examinations. The CT results appeared normal in 110 (74%) of the 148, showed anatomical abnormality in seven (5%), and active or calcified lesions compatible with NCC in 31 (23% of the seropositives and 19% of the seronegatives). Only five of the latter had neurological symptoms (two being epileptics) and only five lived in households in which intestinal taeniasis had been detected. Subject age was significantly associated with NCC-compatible lesions but all the other factors investigated, including seropositivity, showed no significant association with the CT findings. The overall sensitivity of the EITB assays was found to be 55%. Taken together, the present results indicate that, even though it is a valuable tool in determining transmission levels in sero-epidemiological studies, the EITB assay should not be used to predict the existence of NCC or to estimate the prevalence of NCC. The results do provide further evidence that taeniasis and cysticercosis are widely prevalent in Honduras, and indicate that much larger studies of hyper-endemic communities may be necessary if the factors associated with the transmission of T. solium are to be elucidated.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1999-04-01

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