Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another reason to wash your hands

Today I was watching the Learning Channel about a pork parasitic tapeworm disease that had infected a number of people in an Orthodox Jewish community. It takes quite awhile to develop once the eggs are in the body, but eventually the worm makes it to the brain and the formerly asymptomatic victim may develop headaches, seizures, blindness and other neurological disturbances. After some careful investigation by the CDC, it was discovered that all the Jewish families were employing housekeepers from Mexico and Central America.
    Cysticercosis (i.e., tapeworm infection) is the most common parasitic disease worldwide, with an estimated prevalence greater than 50 million persons infected. It is endemic in Mexico, Central and South America, and parts of Africa, Asia, and India. Neurocysticercosis, the neurologic manifestation of cysticercosis, is the most prevalent infection of the brain worldwide, and more than 1,000 new cases are diagnosed in the United States each year. Neurocysticercosis is one of the leading causes of adult-onset seizures worldwide and was found to be the etiologic agent in 10 percent of new-onset seizure patients in one Los Angeles, Calif., emergency department. American Family Physician
It's called oral-fecal contamination--people not properly washing their hands after using the toilet, and then preparing food. Third world and developing country immigrants may be skilled in food prep, but novices in the bathroom.

Because neurocysticercosis takes a long time to develop, the waitress, cook, housekeeper or domestic may have long ago moved on to a different job leaving the customer or employer to deal with the problem.

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