PORK lovers, beware! The popular white meat that you, more often than not, salivate on could make you epileptic.
Experts in zoonotic diseases are now warning that the popular delicacy for mainly urban residents could result in central nervous system disorder if the meat isn’t well prepared for human consumption.
The experts have opined that eating raw or undercooked infected swine could result to Cysticercosis, a parasitic tissue infection caused by larval cysts of the tapeworm Taenia solium.
Once consumed by humans, Taenia solium eggs can lead to Cysticercosis, including a serious condition known as Neurocysticercosis, the zoonotic researchers said yesterday.
“Our research findings have established that almost 30 per cent of adults suffering from epilepsy are from eating undercooked pig meat,” explained Dr Benard Ngowi, an epidemiologist and lead researcher working with the Cysticercosis Network of Sub-Saharan Africa (Cystinet Africa).
Taenia solium usually infect brain, muscle, or other tissue, and are a major cause of adult onset seizures.
Dr Ngowi who was fielding questions from journalists on the sidelines of the first Cysticercosis/ Taeniosis Conference 2019 held here yesterday, said so big was the problem compelling the researchers and experts in zoonotic diseases to come up with a sound strategic plan for eliminating the disease.
“Eating undercooked pork can result in intestinal tapeworm if the pork contains larval cysts which then migrate to the brain,” cautioned the Epidemiologist, noting that pigs normally become infected by eating tapeworm eggs in the feces of a human infected with a tapeworm.
According to Dr Ngowi, people living in the same household with someone who has a tapeworm have a much higher risk of contacting the zoonotic disease than those who don’t.
Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender and Elderly, Dr Faustine Ndugulile on his part, emphasized that pig rearing and keeping should be done under the watchful eyes of livestock officers, even at time of slaughtering to prevent the spread of zoonotic disease.
Dr Ndugulile revealed that regions of Songwe, Mbeya, Ruvuma, Arusha and Manyara were mostly affected by the disease. “Almost 16 per cent of residents in these regions are affected with Cysticercosis,” he said.
The deputy minister further challenged pig keepers to keep their animals safe and secure on their own properties, adding that straying swine can be a great source of the disease.
Another researcher from CYSTINET-Africa, Prof Andrea Winkler noted that a Cysticercosis was a neglected tropical disease belonging to the sub-group of neglected zoonoses that are highly endemic in many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, South-East Asia and Latin America that have poor sanitation and free-ranging pigs that have access to human faeces.
She further underscored the importance of community engagement in eliminating the disease, noting that CYSTINET- Africa was setting the tone through the One Health Approach concept.
The network currently includes researchers from Germany, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.