Cases of Neurocysticercosis caused by pork tapeworm
Pork momo, pork chops, pork with bamboo shoot, pork roast…the list continues. The Northeastern region comprises of more than 65 per cent of pork eaters in the country. But have you ever given a thought on how safe the meat is for consumption?
Every year, more than 70 cases of Neurocysticercosis are reported at the Gauhati Medical College & Hospital (GMCH).
Neurocysticercosis is the result of accidental ingestion of eggs of Taenia solium, that is, pork tapeworm. Neurocysticercosis is the most common parasitic disease of the nervous system and is the main cause of acquired epilepsy.
Following the unveiling of the CYSVAX, reportedly the world’s first vaccine against tapeworm in pigs, developed by the Indian Immunologicals Ltd (IIL), the health experts are hopefull that the vaccine would reduce the ‘increasing trend of Neurocysticercosis cases’.
The symptoms of Neurocysticercosis are abdominal discomfort, cramps, loose motion and so on. So, in order to avoid this disease, people should avoid consuming half-cooked pork items, maintain proper hygiene and avoid open defecation. The disease is mostly found among the rural population as they come to the doctors during the last leg of the disease, when it affects the brain.”
Since the vaccine has no side effects, so it might help eradicate the spread of the disease.”
The Northeast states have more than 50 per cent of the country’s pig population and this vaccine will be a boon to the pig rearers.
Tapeworm is a helminth which is transmitted from man to man. Taenia solium acts as an intermediate host and humans are usually infected by it through various forms like consuming under-cooked pork, not properly washed vegetables and so on.”
These parasites stick together and are hard to diagnose due to their vague symptoms or are sometimes detected in bits and pieces in the stool. But these parasites remain in the human body and slowly affect the brain and form Neurocysticercosis. This disease,although treatable, is not permanently curable.”
The IIL collaborated with Dr Marshall Lightowlers, University of
Melbourne, Australia and GALVmed (Global Alliance for Veterinary medicine) to develop the CYSVAX against pork tapeworm. IIL is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
Dr Dilip Kumar Deka, professor of Parasitology, College of Veterinary Science, Guwahati informed that across the Northeast region, 10 per cent – 20 per cent people are infected with the tapeworm parasite every year.
“In this case, the pig is the intermediate host and man is the final host – that is how the process goes on. The resistant powers of pigs are high and so even if they are infected with cysts in their bodies, they don’t look sick. However, it is the pig rearers who cheat us on most of the occasions,” In most of the cases, the rearers are aware that the pig has cysts but will still sell it. Hence, an organised market and meat quality inspection is required to control the problem.”
Only after the ‘recombinant porcine Cysticercosis vaccine CYSVAX’ is launched in the market and rearers practically use it, then only the affect of the medicine will be verified.
On the other hand, the local food joints which serve pork items are unaware about the vaccine.
Our menu is dominated by pork items. In Guwahati, more than 90 per cent people consume pork, either tribal or non-tribal. Pork with bamboo shoot is the highest selling item at Bora’s food joint.
On November 28, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal unveiled the Cysticercosis vaccine at the ‘Pig Expo’ organised by ICAR – National Research Centre on Pig, Rani, Guwahati. The IIL stated that use of the vaccine in pigs has the potential to significantly reduce the incidence of epilepsy in humans.
This is for the first time that such a vaccine has been introduced in the world. It in only after conducting extensive field trials in India, Spain and Africa, the vaccine has been finally introduced. It’s going to promote and extensively market the vaccine amongst the rearers, dealers and procurers.”
The retail outlets will be established in the state from where the pig rearers can directly procure the vaccine.
- Tapeworm infection is caused by eating the raw or undercooked meat of infected animals. Cattle usually carry Taenia saginata (T. saginata). Pigs carry Taenia solium
- In the human intestine, the young form of the tapeworm from the infected meat (larva) develops into the adult tapeworm. A tapeworm can grow to longer than 12 feet and can live for years
- Tapeworms have many segments. Each segment is able to produce eggs. The eggs are spread alone or in groups, and can pass out with the stool or through the anus
- Adults and children with pork tapeworm can infect themselves if they have poor hygiene. They can ingest tapeworm eggs they pick up on their hands while wiping or scratching their anus or the skin around it.