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Pork lovers at risk

By Vision Reporter

Added 26th January 2004 03:00 AM

If you fancy pork, take care. Taenia solium, also known as the pork tapeworm, can damage your brain by forming cysts in it. You could get epilepsy or mental deterioration as a result neurocysticercosis, which is occurrence of cysts in the brain.

If you fancy pork, take care. Taenia solium, also known as the pork tapeworm, can damage your brain by forming cysts in it. You could get epilepsy or mental deterioration as a result neurocysticercosis, which is occurrence of cysts in the brain.

By Charles Musisi

If you fancy pork, take care. Taenia solium, also known as the pork tapeworm, can damage your brain by forming cysts in it. You could get epilepsy or mental deterioration as a result neurocysticercosis, which is occurrence of cysts in the brain.

Globally, 50,000 people die annually from neurocysticercosis. But in Uganda, the havoc wrecked by this disease has not been measured yet.

“If a pig eats or drinks water contaminated with human feces containing tapeworm eggs, the eggs hatch and form cysts the pig’s muscles,” said Dr. George Nasinyama, Head of the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Makerere University.

Nasinyama says pigs from Luweero and Kumi districts are more often infected with pork tapeworms compared, with pigs from other parts of the country.

“Humans get the pork tapeworm from pork containing the cysts, if it is not adequately cooked or roasted,” says Dr. Nasinyama.

“In areas where sanitation is poor, especially where latrines are few, the possibility of getting the pork tapeworms is high.”

Once eaten by a human being, the cysts grow into adult tapeworms that live in the intestines.

They can be as long as 3 metres. In the intestines, they suck blood and causes irritation that lead to diarrhea. However, in rare circumstances, a person may consume the eggs of this worm.

This happens when pigs eat food or drink water contaminated human feces, that produces tapeworms in the intestines. When swallowed, the eggs hatch in the intestines, penetrates the tissues, and forms cysts in internal organs such as the liver and brain. It is when the cysts enter the brain that they cause epilepsy. The cysts may also cause sudden blindness and muscular problems, if they occur in the eyes and muscles.

“Epilepsy is the most common sign of neurocycosticercosis. It occurs in 70 percent of patients with parenchyma brain cysts,” says Oscar Del Brutto, chief of the Department of Neurology at the Luis Vernaza Hospital Guayaquil, Ecuador. Through meat inspection, veterinarians can detect the cysts in pork and destroy the affected carcasses.

“There is only one gazetted slaughter house in Kampala at Wambizzi in Nalukolongo. However, pork sold in many places is not inspected,” he said.

Treatment must be individualised according to the location of the parasites, and the degree of disease activity. Patients with epilepsy can be treated with anti epileptic drugs for seizures.

Pork lovers at risk

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