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Taenia solium infection causes severe neurological disease in humans. Even though infection and exposure to swine cysticercosis is scattered throughout endemic villages, location of the tapeworm only explains some of the nearby infections and is not related to location of seropositive pigs. Other players might be involved in cysticercosis transmission. In this study we hypothesize that pigs that carry nematodes specific to dung beetles are associated with cysticercosis infection and/or exposure. We carried out a cross-sectional study of six villages in an endemic region in northern Peru. We euthanized all pigs (326) in the villages and performed necropsies to diagnose cysticercosis. For each pig, we counted cysticerci; measured anti-cysticercus antibodies; identified intestinal nematodes; tabulated distance to nearest human tapeworm infection; and recorded age, sex, productive stage, and geographic reference. For the purpose of this paper, we defined cysticercosis infection as the presence of at least one cysticercus in pig muscles, and cysticercosis exposure as seropositivity to anti-cysticercus antibodies with the presence of 0–5 cysticerci. Compared to pigs without nematode infections, those pigs infected with the nematode Ascarops strongylina were significantly associated with the presence of cysticerci (OR: 4.30, 95%CI: 1.83–10.09). Similarly, pigs infected with the nematode Physocephalus sexalatus were more likely to have cysticercosis exposure (OR: 2.21, 95%CI: 1.50–3.28). In conclusion, our results suggest that there appears to be a strong positive association between the presence of nematodes and both cysticercosis infection and exposure in pigs. The role of dung beetles in cysticercosis dynamics should be further investigated.
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