Cysticercosis

Cysticercosis

Do you eat chat, pani-puri, vegetable salads etc.? Then please read this.

Taenia solium or the pork tapeworm is a parasite commonly found in India. It is transmitted from poorly cooked (measly) pork to man. The infected person passes eggs in a large quantity in his/her stools.

There is a misconception about this parasite in many, including qualified medical practitioners that the parasite does not infect vegetarians. The eggs of this parasite are infective to man. We swallow the eggs through vegetables or water contaminated by human feces. Open air defecation and use of manure prepared of human feces are common sources of these eggs. One person may excrete more than 2,00,000 (two lakh) ova per day.

Vegetarians thus get the infection through inadequately washed vegetables. In fact, it is not possible to wash away all the eggs from vegetables as they are sticky. A trivial contamination may contain several thousand eggs.

The eggs hatch in the stomach and embryos penetrates the gut wall and enter the blood stream. They settle in various tissues and develop in larval forms called Cysticercus cellulosae. This tissue phase is treatable. But one condition cannot be treated at all – the cysticercus meningitis. The patient always succumbs to it. I have seen at least 5 cases in last five years and patients could not be saved. One was our own student here. Pure vegetarian!

It is not possible to avoid egg entry to our stomach. We consume so many green leafy vegetables, salads, coriander etc. in Pani-Puri and Chat that is often unhygienic and uncooked. The only way to prevent cysticercosis is Albendazole 800 mg stat after fatty meal, every 6 months (Yes 800 mg. This is not a typographic mistake). This aborts the development of tissue phase.

Start the prophylaxis, now, please! I will send reminders every six months.

Protect your family, friends and patients.