Spirometra Tapeworm, A neglected zoonotic disease

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Illustration by Feri Fenoria

UNAIR NEWS – Spirometra tapeworm is a zoonotic disease that can spread to humans and cause clinical signs such as allergic reaction, chronic inflammation, and painful nodules within subcutaneous tissues.

In the process of infection, this worms belong in genus Spirometra require a host, one of which is a snake host. Furthermore, snake has always close relationship with human, making it  as pets and even consume this reptile. Thus, the possibility of this worm to attack humans is big,l

Responding to this, Aditya Yudhana, drh., M.Si., with the team conducted an investigation of Spirometra tapeworms in Bronzeback snake body (Dendrelaphis pictus) or the East Javanese people called it ular tampar or ular tali picis.

“We chose this type of snake, because it has a large population in Indonesia, especially in East Java,” said the lecturer of Veterinary Medicine at PSDKU UNAIR Banyuwangi.

He also explained there had been no research on the Spirometra parasitic infection in Bronzeback snakes in Indonesia. Therefore, it aims to report on the prevalence and public health effects of Spirometra infection, and provide a scientific basis for preventing sparganum disease, and to get better understanding of its medical relevance.

“With the lack of references and studies of this type of parasite, so I think it is very necessary to start focusing on it,” he added.

A total of 378 types of bronzeback snakes that are wild-caught and captive, The live snakes were euthanized using ethyl ether anesthesia before checking for Spirometra parasites. Until finally the number of spirometra worms in the snake’s body will be calculated to investigate the distribution of spirometra in the body of the snake.

“We must euthanized the snake, because the location of the worm examination is located in the muscle tissue, subcutaneous tissue (skin layer), and coelom (body cavity),” he explained.

The results state that of the total number of snakes; 50.85% positive containing spirometra worms. Of the total number of snakes caught wildly; 70.7% positive contain spirometra worms. And from the total number of cultivated snakes; 48.7% positive containing spirometra worms. In addition, based on the location of spirometra worms; 56.6% are located in muscle tissue; 29.5% are in the subcutaneous tissue; and 13.8% are in the coelomic cavity.

“From these results, it can be concluded that spirometra worms have the potential to infect humans because the prevalence is quite large. Moreover, if the snake is a wild catch, “he said.

drh. Adit added, that the spirometra worm can easily move to the human body if the snake meat infected with the worm is consumed by humans. Therefore, he felt that educating the public about such things was very necessary.

“Actually, consuming snake meat is fine, but the consumption of snakes that are clearly proven to be better is cultivated snakes. People need to avoid raw snake meat, better cooked the meat first. And, if someone wants to pet snake, use natural food, “he concluded. (*)

Author: Bastian Ragas

Editor: Nuri Hermawan

Source : Yudhana A, Praja RN, Supriyanto A (2019) The medical relevance of Spirometra tapeworm infection in Indonesian Bronzeback snakes (Dendrelaphis pictus): A neglected zoonotic disease, Veterinary World, 12(6): 844-848.


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