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Epidemiology, Control and Burden of Cysticercosis 

Taenia solium cysticercosis is a parasitic zoonosis that is transmitted between humans, who can be infected with the adult worm in their intestines, and pigs, in which larval cysts of the parasite develop in muscles and other tissues. Humans contaminate the environment with eggs of the parasite excreted in the feces in situations where sanitation conditions are poor. Pigs, coprophages, become infected by ingesting the eggs present in the environment. Humans in turn become infected by eating undercooked pork.


This life cycle results in economic losses for pig farmers when there is a food inspection system in place, but the consequences for human health are minor. However, when humans ingest eggs from the parasite due to poor food and hand hygiene, the parasite can migrate into various tissues with a predilection for the central nervous system. Our team has shown that 29% of epilepsy cases in endemic areas were caused by neurocysticercosis. We were also the first to emphasize the role that cysticercosis can play in the burden of severe headache in these areas. 


As early as 2008, our team published on the use of implementation research from a One Health perspective to develop educational programs to control infection in both pigs and humans. Our team was also among the first to evaluate the quality of life of people suffering from neurocysticercosis and the monetary impact of this infection for affected regions. Thanks to our large-scale studies using a One Health approach, we have been able to evaluate the link between pig management, soil type, environment, socio-demographic factors, and infection in humans and pigs. Our team is currently working on the best method to identify the causes of the different stages of the parasite's life cycle, on the development of mathematical models to predict cases of neurocysticercosis and the impact that educational programs could have, and on the monetary impact of this zoonosis for a poor country like Burkina Faso. We are also exploring the impact of the cultural context on the transmission of the parasite and its control.

Our research team's estimates of the proportion of people with epilepsy with neurocysticercosis have been used by the WHO and the Global Burden of Disease initiative to assess the global burden of neurocysticercosis. 


Our studies in Tanzania and Burkina Faso led to the development of educational tools including a comedy about the parasite and its control that was broadcast on a private channel in Burkina Faso. All these projects have also allowed us to train young researchers from poor countries.  

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