Published On: Wed, Feb 27th, 2013

Frenzal Rhomb frontman, Jay Whalley, talks about his ‘tapeworm in the brain’ on Facebook

The lead singer of the Australian punk band explained why they had to cancel their recent tour on the bands Facebook page yesterday.

Frenzal Rhomb's Jay Whalley surgical scar Image/Frenzal Rhomb Facebook page

Frenzal Rhomb’s Jay Whalley surgical scar
Image/Frenzal Rhomb Facebook page

Jay Whalley, frontman for the Sydney-based band wrote a detailed post to fans explaining how a vegetarian ended up with a tapeworm in his brain, which resulted in at least two surgeries and a Valentine’s Day brain surgery.

With a cool sense of humor, Whalley talks of the surgery,  “Valentines Day Brain Surgery. Sounds like a Ramones song. They gave me general anesthetic and cut a 10cm rectangle at the back left of my skull, took out the offending alien and put the skull piece back. It was over in about three hours.”

What Whalley was suffering from was neurocysticercosis.

What is the pork tapeworm?

Taenia solium is a tapeworm that people get from eating raw or undercooked “measly pork”. The pork meat has cysticerci (the larval stage) which in the human intestine mature to an adult tapeworm. Here the tapeworm attaches to the intestine and produces thousands of eggs.

Does the pork tapeworm cause disease while in the intestine?

Most people are asymptomatic and only become aware of the tapeworm by noticing segments of the worm in their feces. Symptoms of infection, if any, are general: nausea, intestinal upset, vague abdominal symptoms such as hunger pains, diarrhea and/or constipation, or chronic indigestion.

What is cysticercosis?

Human cysticercosis occurs either by the direct transfer of Taenia solium eggs from the feces of people harboring an adult worm to their own mouth (autoinfection) or to the mouth of another individual, or indirectly by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the eggs. When the person ingests the eggs, the embryo escape from the shell and penetrates the intestinal wall, gets into the blood vessels, where they spread to muscle, or more seriously, the eyes, heart or brain.

How serious is cysticercosis?

The severity of cystercercosis depends on which organs are infected and the number of cysticerci. An infection consisting of a few small cysticerci in the liver or muscles would likely result in no obvious disease and go unnoticed. Those that form in voluntary muscle tend to be asymptomatic, but may cause some pain. On the other hand, a few cysticerci, if located in a particularly “sensitive” area of the body, might result in irreparable damage. For instance, a cysticercus in the eye might lead to blindness, or a cysticercus in the brain (neurocysticercosis) could lead to traumatic neurological damage, epileptic seizures or brain swelling that can kill.

Where is cysticercosis a problem?

This condition is relatively common in Mexico and large parts of Central America. In the US, it is seen most frequently in the Southwest , but can be seen in other parts of the country. It is most frequently associated with immigrants to this country.

How long after infection do symptoms of cysticercosis appear?

It may be as short as a few weeks or up to 10 years or more.

Is it treatable?

It can be treated with anti-parasitic drugs like praziquantel and steroid therapy to control brain swelling. Occasionally surgical intervention may be required to relieve symptoms.

How do you prevent this disease?

In the U.S., laws have been passed that requires meat inspection for cysticerci prior to meat being put on the market of human consumption.

Adequate cooking of meat destroys the tapeworm larvae and will prevent infection by tapeworm. Freezing meat to -5C for 4 days, -15C for 3 days, or -24C for 1 day kills the larvae as well.

Good hygiene and hand washing after using the toilet will prevent self-infection in a person already infected with tapeworms in addition to contamination of foodstuffs by human feces.

Whalley closed his post as follows:

I’m having a hard time putting into words the depth of gratitude I have for the love I’ve felt from my amazing wife, my family, this band and my friends. So that’ll have to do in this forum. I’ll get emo with you over a beer real soon.Now, let the jokes begin, if I may start with a couple of ideas thrown around between myself and Gordy about what my name should be on the next record: 

Ham Solo.

Notorious P.I.G.
Jay Edgar Hoove-er

You get the idea…

So back to ‘work’ on album no. 9 and see you at a show soon enough. 


Shit For Brains.


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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Diphtheria: ‘Rabbits Eat Lettuce’ festival attendee contracts disease | Outbreak News Today says:

    […] Frenzal Rhomb frontman, Jay Whalley, talks about his ‘tapeworm in the brain’ on Facebook […]

  2. After ‘tapeworm’ setback, Frenzal Rhomb ready to hit the road again - The Global Dispatch says:

    […] is apparently doing well enough after Valentines Day brain surgery to remove tapeworm larvae from his head to perform on stage […]

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