Doctor's Warning: Non-Veg Fast Foods from Unhygienic Sources Can Lead to Brain-Infesting Worms

Consumption of unhygienic food and water can cause Tapeworm infection in your brain, muscles, heart, etc
Prevent tapeworms by avoiding raw meat and contaminated pork consumption. (Representational image: Pixabay)
Prevent tapeworms by avoiding raw meat and contaminated pork consumption. (Representational image: Pixabay)

Eating roadside food items can surely be cheaper and tastier but the eggs of a pork tapeworm can contaminate these food items called Taenia solium (T. solium) which causes a parasitic infection called Cysticercosis causing cyst formation in various parts of the body like the brain, eyes, heart, muscle, etc. Humans are the main host for Taenia solium and pigs, sheep, dogs, and cats are the intermediate host of this worm.

Cysticercosis can affect anyone at any age, but the symptoms can appear weeks or years after being infected.

The symptoms start to appear when the cyst starts dying causing the immune system to react against it leading to an inflammatory reaction. This is mainly because viable cysts can avoid being detected by the host immune system thus causing only mild symptoms. 

Dr. Yogesh Arul, MBBS, MD Medicine took to Instagram and exposed the reality of consuming non-vegetarian fast foods from unhygienic restaurants when a patient with myocysticercosis visited him.

This worm can be deposited in our brains and sometimes even in our eyes. This infection occurs due to the consumption of undercooked pork.

Dr. Yogesh Arul, MBBS and MD Medicine

He later revealed that his patient does not consume pork, meaning street vendors use dog and pig meat instead of chicken. He advises us to stay away from cheap roadside food items.

How common is Cysticercosis in India?

It is widely endemic in many states of north India like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab etc. A recent study conducted on a rural pig farming community of Mohanlal Ganj block, Lucknow reported the incidence of taeniasis at 18.6 %. Kerela has very few cases of Cysticercosis because of their high literacy rate and they have a predominantly vegetarian community practicing proper hygiene standards. States with a majority of Muslim population like Jammu and Kashmir also have fewer cases of this infection as they refrain from pork consumption. [3]

Humans are the main host for Tapeworms.(Representational image: Wikimedia Commons)
Humans are the main host for Tapeworms.(Representational image: Wikimedia Commons)

Diagnosis and Tests

Your healthcare provider will inquire about your recent symptoms and your food intake followed by a physical examination. They may order an MRI, CT scan, blood tests, biopsy, lumbar puncture, or an eye examination.

Treatments

Treatment for cysticercosis varies from one patient to another. Your healthcare professional will provide you with medication suitable for your condition.

Steps to avoid Cysticercosis

  1. Drink clean, boiled water

  2. Avoid street foods

  3. Always consume washed fruits and vegetables

  4. Do not touch your mouth after using the restroom or after touching feces

References:

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23534-cysticercosis (Cited on 02/07/24)

  2. https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/cysticercosis/ (Cited on 02/07/24)

  3. Ahmad, Rumana, Tahmeena Khan, Bilal Ahmad, Aparna Misra, and Anil K. Balapure. "Neurocysticercosis: a review on status in India, management, and current therapeutic interventions." Parasitology research 116 (2017): 21-33. (Cited on 02/07/24)

(By Gayatri Prakasan)

Prevent tapeworms by avoiding raw meat and contaminated pork consumption. (Representational image: Pixabay)
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