Is tapeworm infection in Singapore on the rise? According to The Straits Times, a 2.8 m-long tapeworm was extracted from the gut of a man, who showed no symptoms!
What is the chief cause of tapeworm infection in Singapore, and how can it be prevented?
Tapeworm infection in Singapore
Apparently, the tapeworm that was extracted was 1.5 times the man’s height!
Sometimes, tapeworm infections may have symptoms like:
- Abdominal pain
- Hunger or loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
However, many a time, tapeworms don’t cause any symptoms. The only sign of tapeworm infection may be segments of the worms, possibly moving, in a bowel movement.
Causes of tapeworm infection in Singapore
The chief cause of tapeworm infection in Singapore is eating undercooked pork, beef or fish. The above case was found to be that of fish tapeworm infestation.
According to infectious diseases expert Hsu Li Yang, most fish tapeworms are acquired by eating raw or under-cooked freshwater fish. The rise of raw fish consumption over the years is probably why fish tapeworm infection in Singapore is on the rise.
In another unique case, a 1 m long pork tapeworm was reported at the National University Hospital (NUH) 5 years ago.
Meanwhile, other common parasites found in seafood are roundworms and flukes, a kind of flatworm. When it comes to worms, raw fish is not the only culprit. Poor sanitation and cleanliness practices are also to blame for worms like hookworms.
Dangers of eating raw fish
Yusheng PHOTO: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
With Chinese New Year fast approaching, it is important to understand some of the dangers of consuming raw fish.
Apart from worms and parasitic infections, people who eat raw or under-cooked seafood are also at risk of bacterial infection, like the Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection.
In 2015, 150 cases of GBS infection were reported, which were linked to the consumption of Chinese-style ready-to-eat raw fish dishes.
Another danger to take note of is scombroid poisoning. It happens due to improper storage and handling of fish, resulting in spoilage. This results in the fish decaying and producing a toxin.
Precautions while eating raw fish this Chinese New Year
While the risk of falling seriously ill after eating raw fish in Singapore is low, it is still better to be safe than sorry. Experts advise these tips to stay safe:
- Practise good hygiene
- Avoid raw fish if you have poor immunity. Vulnerable groups of people, especially young children, pregnant women, elderly persons, or people with chronic illness such as diabetes, should exercise caution by avoiding the consumption of raw food.
- It is best to purchase Ready-to-eat (RTE) raw fish from places that have separate processes and counters dedicated for RTE raw fish.
- According to AVA, if you buy pre-packed yusheng, check if the the food packaging is intact. The food items should look fresh, and not bruised or mouldy. Keep it chilled below 5°C, until it is ready to be served. Eat it within 2 hours of mixing.
- Store fish for raw consumption separately from other raw food intended for cooking.
Also READ: Worms in children – causes, symptoms and treatment
(Source: The Straits Times)