Pork tapeworm infection is a parasitic disease that primarily affects humans. The pork tapeworm has a worldwide distribution, but is mainly distributed in Indonesia, New Guinea, South America and Africa.
What is Pork Tapeworm Infection?
Pork tapeworm infection is an infection with a tapeworm, which lodges mainly in the human intestine. People who frequently eat raw pork, which contains pork tapeworm larvae, have an increased risk of contracting pork tapeworm infection. Typical foods here are: chopped meat, minced meat or steaks that are only lightly cooked through. See beautyphoon for What is Urinary Stones.
Pork tapeworm infection is caused by parasites, here the pork tapeworm. Tapeworms need a host. Pork tapeworms are flatworms. They nest in the intestines of their definitive host and reach a length of a few millimeters to several meters. Pork tapeworms go through a cycle with different stages of development, during which they change their host. In the case of pork tapeworm, the pig is the intermediate host and humans are the definitive host.
Humans become infected with pork tapeworm infection when the larvae of pork tapeworm enter the human body. Pork tapeworm infection then develops from eating raw or undercooked meat containing these larvae. The larvae grow into tapeworms in the definitive host’s intestine.
Pork tapeworms use their heads to attach themselves to the intestinal walls of the definitive host by means of suction cups or hooks. The tapeworm consists of several limbs, these contain male and female sex glands. As a result, tapeworms are hermaphrodite. After fertilization, the eggs mature inside the worm. Those limbs that contain mature eggs detach from the worm and leave the host’s body with the stool.
These eggs are ingested by an intermediate host. The larvae hatch in its intestines. They pierce through the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream and are distributed throughout the body. Your goal is the muscle meat, as this is well supplied with blood. They settle there and form second larvae, so-called fins.
The pork tapeworm infection in humans is now through the consumption of this meat containing larvae. In the human intestine, the worm larva develops into a sexually mature worm and the life cycle of the pork tapeworm begins again. This can last up to 20 years. A similar process is also found in beef tapeworm infection.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A pork tapeworm infection does not necessarily cause symptoms. However, the clinical picture is exacerbated when poor hygiene leads to self-infection. The eggs of the pork tapeworm excreted via the intestinal tract are taken up again via the mouth. This infection leads to cysticercosis, which can spread to the muscles, eyes, or brain.
In principle, the same thing happens as in the body of the original host. Larvae develop from the tapeworm eggs in the intestine. These pierce through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. There, the fins can get stuck in the muscles, in the brain or in the connective tissue and lead to the occurrence of a variety of symptoms.
The affected person is gaining weight. He has no appetite and is often nauseous. Headaches and dizziness can also occur. It comes to severe visual disturbances, which can lead to blindness. Meningitis can also be a result of pork tapeworm infection.
Another sign is hydrocephalus, caused by fluid accumulation in the brain. If the course is unfavorable, the fins of the tapeworm can damage the muscles and also attack the heart muscle. The result can be paraplegia. If pork tapeworm infection is not treated, about half of those affected die.
Diagnosis & History
If pork tapeworm eggs can be detected in the stool under a microscope, the diagnosis is pork tapeworm infection. With a pork tapeworm infection, various symptoms can occur or go unnoticed. Some sufferers suffer from emaciation, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite or anemia.
If there is a lack of hygiene, however, there is a risk of self-infection. If, for example, worm eggs get back into the body from the intestine through the mouth due to insufficiently washed hands, this can result in a serious illness. The doctor calls this cysticercosis, the nesting of the worm larvae in organs.
The course of a pork tapeworm infection is usually not complicated. As long as the worm does not form larvae in the human intestine, there are hardly any problems. In about 10 percent of all cases, the worm develops larvae. This can lead to functional disorders of organs, for example the brain.
The outbreak of a pork tapeworm infection takes a few weeks, because the development from the larva to the mature pork tapeworm takes three to four months. Tapeworm eggs can only be detected in the faeces after this period has elapsed. A pork tapeworm infection can have serious complications and long-term effects.
As a result of nausea and vomiting, there is often weight loss and deficiency symptoms, which lead to impaired consciousness and increase the risk of accidents. Anemia harbors similar risks and also puts a strain on the immune and circulatory systems. If the infection occurs via worm eggs or if the affected person ingests the eggs from their own intestinal tract, so-called cysticercosis occurs – it affects the eyes, brain and muscles.
This serious complication subsequently causes serious symptoms such as seizures, damage to the skeletal muscles or heart muscle, visual disturbances and meningitis. Hydrocephalus (water on the head) can also develop. In addition to the typical side effects and interactions, drug therapy can also result in serious complications.
In individual cases, the preparation praziquantel causes cardiac arrhythmia, brain disorders such as epilepsy or neurological deficits as well as serious skin rashes and bloody diarrhea. If the disease is already more advanced, even light sedatives or painkillers can cause problems in the cardiovascular system. As the disease progresses, the risk of a new infection from worm eggs in the body also increases.
When should you go to the doctor?
A pork tapeworm infection should always be treated by a doctor. There can be other serious complications if the disease is not treated properly, which can reduce the life expectancy of the person affected. Therefore, a doctor should be consulted at the first sign of pork tapeworm infection. Those affected should consult a doctor if they experience a severe loss of appetite, which is also associated with nausea.
Likewise, weight loss can indicate pork tapeworm infection and should be investigated if it occurs without a specific reason. Furthermore, visual problems or severe headaches indicate the infection and must also be examined by a doctor if they occur over a longer period of time.
Pork tapeworm infection can be diagnosed and treated by a general practitioner. Early diagnosis and thus early treatment of this disease are crucial. If the treatment is correct and successful, the patient’s life expectancy will not be reduced.
Treatment & Therapy
Treatment for pork tapeworm infection aims to remove the parasite. Pork tapeworm is treated with niclosamide or paziquantel in tablet form.
This causes the worms to die or become paralyzed, preventing further attachment to the intestines, the worm dies and leaves the body with the stool.
Irradiation can also be used in the case of persistent pork tapeworm infection with infestation of organs. However, there is a risk of complications as the affected tissue dies.
A preventive measure to avoid pork tapeworm infection is not to eat raw or undercooked meat. If you cannot do without meat, you should freeze it for at least 10 days, so there is no risk of infection. Animals for slaughter are subjected to an official examination of their meat. Here the meat is checked for worm larvae before the meat reaches the consumer.
Medical follow-up care in the true sense of the word is not necessary after a treated infection with pork tapeworm. A pork tapeworm infection is considered cured after a few days of medication. It may be necessary to control the subsequent immune response of the body due to the declining fins or larvae of pork tapeworm for a few days after treatment.
For this, cortisone is used as a drug to inhibit the immune system. After this immune reaction has also been overcome and the attending doctor no longer finds any pimples or cysts in the patient, the patient is considered cured. Follow-up examinations for follow-up checks are not necessary. The pork tapeworm cannot reproduce within a host.
This means that once adult and sexually mature tapeworms have been eliminated, there is no risk of further eggs hatching in the patient. Instead, these are excreted in the feces according to the tapeworm’s life cycle.
Also, consequential medical damage that would require follow-up care is generally not to be expected. Exceptions can be very space-occupying fins in the brain region. However, the symptoms triggered here are usually temporary and disappear completely after therapy.
As part of the follow-up care, a better understanding of the pork tapeworm itself can be understood. Pork tapeworm infection is really only possible if there is a lack of hygiene during food preparation or if pork is barely cooked.
You can do that yourself
In general, pork tapeworm infection is a condition that has the potential for serious side effects. For this reason, compliance with the prescribed drug treatment is of the utmost importance. In the course of this, patients are encouraged to take care of themselves physically during and after the therapy and to avoid extensive sporting activities. Because any physical and psychological stress affects the immune system, which is already challenged by the pork tapeworm infection and the drugs prescribed for it.
Some patients experience symptoms similar to those of other gastrointestinal infections during the disease. Nausea can be alleviated with medicinal or homeopathic active ingredients and an adapted diet. Since the pork tapeworm infection can cause vomiting, patients should at best allow themselves a lot of rest and stay at home if possible. The loss of appetite associated with the disease can also be reduced by temporarily changing the diet. If you feel unwell or have any complications, see a doctor immediately to prevent more serious side effects.
Undercooked meat, regardless of the type of animal, should be avoided during the pork tapeworm infection. An additional infection of the gastrointestinal tract with new pathogens, for example as part of food poisoning, can cause serious complications and delay the healing process of pork tapeworm infection.