Experts: Beware of tapeworms in wild animals

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Illustration by Feri Fenoria

UNAIR NEWS – Responding to the phenomenon of exotic pet adoption and extreme culinary (consumption of wild meat such as snakes, lizards, frogs and monitor lizards), Aditya Yudhana, drh., M.Si in a team conducted research on Spirometra tapeworm infections in wild animals especially reptiles and amphibians that can cause sparganosis.

“Some case reports stated that humans can also be infected with the Sprirometra tapeworm,” said a lecturer of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (FKH) Universitas Airlangga (UNAIR), known as Aditya.

Aditya continued, humans can be infected with sparganosis from eating meat containing Spirometra tapeworms. These worms are usually found in meat or offal as the main ingredients of extreme culinary.

When the food processing is not done in with a proper heat, worms can survive and are ready to infect the human body. Unfortunately, usually extreme culinary connoisseurs prefer to eat meat served in raw and undercooked conditions.

“In addition, we also argue that individuals who are close to the phenomenon are more at risk of being infected with sparganosis, especially if you pay less attention to cleanliness and sanitation, ” he continued.

In the results of research conducted by Aditya and his team to 378 snakes, the incidence of Spirometra tapeworms was 50.85%. 56.6% of worms were found in the snakes, 29.5% were found in subcutaneous tissue or skin. 13.8% is found in the large intestine.

378 snake samples were obtained from breeders and wild catches in several snake collectors. The incidence of snakes with Spirometra tapeworms in breeders was 70.7%, while wild catches was 48.7%.

“Thus, wild animals that have been specifically bred by several breeders as pets and wildlife have an equal opportunity in the incidence of sparganosis infections,” said Aditya.

Although the incidence of tapeworm infection and sparganosis to wildlife is quite high, reports of sparganosis events in Indonesia are still very minimal. In fact, the disease can be transmitted to humans.

“The lack of epidemiological data on sparganosis worldwide in both humans and animal species is a challenge to continue to explore this research in a sustainable manner,” he concluded.

Author: Galuh Mega Kurnia

Editor: Nuri Hermawan

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

Link : 10.14202/vetworld.2019.844-848

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