Tapeworm infection (Echinococcosis)

    • Brief

    • A tapeworm infection is a disease that is caused by eating food that has been contaminated with the faeces of an animal that is infected with tapeworm eggs. This disease can affect organs like the liver, lungs, intestines and brain.

      People who raise animals like sheep and dogs commonly have this infection.  The infections may not start immediately after eating a portion of contaminated food but may take months to start showing. Some of the common symptoms of tapeworm infection include chest pain and stomach pain. Preventing the transmission of parasites helps in controlling this disease.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • The symptoms of tapeworm infection depend on the organ or part of the body that is affected. You may experience one or more of these symptoms:

      • Pain in your stomach.
      • Cough and chest pain.
      • Nausea and vomiting.
      • Swollen stomach.

    • What are the causes?

    • You can become infected with tapeworms after eating eggs or immature worms in food, water or soil.

    • What are the things that put you at risk?

    • The causes or risk factors of tapeworm infection include:

      • Exposure to animals like sheep, dogs and camels.
      • Certain lifestyles may also put you at risk of having this disease.
      • Exposure to feces of cattle and dogs.
      • You are a doctor that treats animals.

    • When to visit a doctor?

    • You should visit your healthcare provider if you notice any of these symptoms:

      • Serious chest pain.
      • Stomachache that does not resolve after self-care.
      • Coughing out blood
    • How to prevent?

    • You can prevent yourself from contracting tapeworms by practising good hygiene (including handwashing with soap), washing food items and cooking food properly with clean water, observing good sanitation and preserving raw foods (drying or freezing).

      Mass deworming exercises may be effective in communities with a high number of children or adults infected with the parasite.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Self-care:

      • Practice good hand washing hygiene after touching animals like sheep or dogs before handling food.
      • Avoid touching animals that do not belong to you.
      • Prepare meat and fish well making sure that they are not undercooked or raw.
      • Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
      • Ensure that you eat your food in a clean environment.

      Medical treatment:

      Treatment for tapeworm infection is directed at fighting the infection and relieving symptoms.

      • Your healthcare provider may recommend anti-worm drugs that help you get rid of the tapeworm.
      • You may also be given drugs to help relieve some of your symptoms, like albendazole or mebendazole.
      • Your healthcare provider may recommend surgery if the infection has affected your organs.

    • Kulawa cares

    • Prevention is better than cure. A tapeworm infection is not life-threatening and can be cured. You must practice good food hygiene. Wash your hands regularly, wash fruits and vegetables properly before eating, and make sure that fish and meat are thoroughly cooked. If you keep pets, you can limit the areas where they are allowed. This also helps you to prevent transmission. We advise that you visit the nearest healthcare facility if you experience any of the symptoms.