Health (human)

Let’s break the tapeworm cycle – in (L)Uganda!

During a training session on pig and pork zoonoses in February this year, Peter Mugagga, one of the participants volunteered to organize for the translation of a poster on “How to break the tapeworm cycle” into his mother tongue Luganda, the major language spoken in Uganda by more than 16 million people. The poster had initially been developed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Medical Research Council through the International Cysticercosis Coordination Center in 2005. During the training it served as a real eye opener for the many farmers who did not know that in addition to eating only cyst-free and well-cooked pork, risk for disease transmission can be significantly reduced if pigs do not have access to human faeces and if people observe good personal hygiene (i.e. using toilets and washing hands after toilet use and before eating).

If people eat undercooked pork infected with cysts of the tapeworm Taenia solium, the adult worms persist in their intestines (taeniasis) producing thousands of eggs. Human tapeworm carriers contaminate the environment with those eggs which they pass out with faeces. If eggs are ingested by people (or pigs!) they can grow into cysts in the muscles but also other organs. If they locate in the brains, they may cause epilepsy in humans. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 80% of the world’s 50 million people who are affected by epilepsy live in low-income and lower-middle-income countries, many of which are endemic for T. solium infections in people and pigs.

The poster was translated from English by Anatoli Kirigwajjo.

For more information on cysticercosis visit http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs376/en/

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