Do you love pork or you keep pigs? Beware of Cysticercosis

What is Cysticercosis?

Before we can jump right into Cysticercosis, we need to learn first about Taeniasis

Taeniasis is an intestinal infection that affects humans who swallow the cysts of tapeworm in undercooked pork or beef. After ingestion, the tapeworm cysts develop into adult tapeworms. These adult tapeworms will then excrete eggs through the feaces of the infected human. When such infected human being defecates in the open as is common in some areas in Nigeria, they contaminate the surrounding environment with the tapeworm eggs. Taeniasis causes mild symptoms such as nausea, diarrhoea or constipation and may continue until the tapeworm dies following treatment, or it may live for many years.

Now back to Cysticercosis ….


Cysticercosis is an infection caused by the larvae of the tapeworm parasite. A person is infected when he/she swallows the tapeworm eggs through contaminated water or food (mainly vegetables) or putting contaminated fingers in their mouth. Some may re-infect themselves with the eggs (auto-infection) or may infect other family members. As you can guess already, eating pork itself cannot give you cysticercosis, but poor hygiene can give you cysticercosis.

Now, when the person swallows the tapeworm eggs, the eggs develop into larvae and the larvae gets into tissues such as muscle, eyes and brain and then forms cysts there. When infection is established, some people may not develop any symptoms and some may develop nodules on their skin. However, a lot of people have situations when the cysts get to the brain causing a condition called neurocysticercosis. Neurocysticercosis is a very fatal condition that usually leads to epilepsy and other related conditions in the affected person. It is the cause of 30% of epilepsy cases in many areas where people and roaming pigs live in close proximity.

Cysticercosis affects the health and livelihoods of subsistence farming communities in developing countries, reduces the market value of pigs and especially makes pork unsafe to eat.


Where is cysticercosis found?

Cysticercosis (and Taeniasis) is found worldwide but mostly in rural areas of developing countries where pigs are allowed to roam freely and eat human feces and where hygiene practices are poor.  It is also common in areas where animal husbandry practices do not prevent pigs and cattle from coming into contact with human faeces. Cysticercosis is rare in people who live in countries where pigs do not have contact with human feces.

Is there treatment for cysticercosis?

Yes. Infections are generally treated in human and pigs with anti-parasitic drugs in combination with anti-inflammatory drugs. See your doctor and veterinary doctor for treatment in humans and animals respectively

Can cysticercosis be spread from person to person?

No. Someone with cysticercosis cannot spread the disease to other people.  However, people with taeniasis (tapeworm infection in the intestine) may spread tapeworm eggs to other people if they do not practice good hygiene (like washing hands after toilet use). This may then result in cysticercosis if people swallow the eggs.

How can I prevent cysticercosis and other infections spread through fecal contamination?

  1. Stop defecating in the open fields or open space
  2. Always wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet, after changing diapers, and before handling food
  3. Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection
  4. Wash all raw vegetables and fruits thoroughly before eating
  5. Deworm yourself regularly (especially if you are in a high-risk area). If you have a pig farm, make sure they are given timely deworming
  6. Practice good environmental sanitation and in your pig farms
  7. Make sure you inspect your meat or pork well before buying it.


Adapted from WHO and CDC

Know some diseases people can catch from Dogs and Cats

This post originally appeared in Pet MD written by Dr. Jennifer Coates

There’s no denying the benefits of including dogs and cats in your life, but as is true with all things, there are downsides.

One that is often overlooked is the possibility of catching a disease from your pet. While the chance of this occurring is quite low, it only makes sense for owners to be aware of diseases that can be passed from dogs and cats to people.

Cat-scratch Disease

Cat-scratch disease is a bacterial disease that people may get after being bitten or scratched by a cat. About 40% of cats carry the bacteria at some time in their lives, although kittens younger than 1 year of age are more likely to have it. Most cats with this infection show no signs of illness. People who are bitten or scratched by an affected cat may develop a mild infection 3-14 days later at the site of the wound. The infection may worsen and cause fever, headache, poor appetite, and exhaustion. Later, the person’s lymph nodes closest to the original scratch or bite can become swollen, tender, or painful. Seek medical attention if you believe you have cat-scratch disease.


Giardia is a parasite that causes diarrhea in animals and people. Giardia is transmitted to animals and people through food or water contaminated with stool (poop). Symptoms for animals and people include diarrhea, greasy stools, and dehydration. People can also have abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can last 1-2 weeks.


Dog and cat hookworms are tiny worms that can spread through contact with contaminated soil or sand. Pets can also become infected with hookworms through accidentally ingesting the parasite from the environment or through their mother’s milk or colostrum. Hookworm infections in pets can cause anemia, diarrhea, and weight loss. Severe infections can be fatal. People become infected with hookworms while walking barefoot, kneeling, or sitting on ground contaminated with stool of infected animals. Hookworm larvae enter the top layers of skin and cause an itchy reaction called cutaneous larva migrans. A red squiggly line may appear where the larvae have migrated under the skin. Symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment in 4-6 weeks.


Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of people and animals that is transmitted through contaminated water and urine or other body fluids from an infected animal. It is difficult to detect early stages of leptospirosis in animals, but the disease can lead to kidney and liver failure if left untreated. People who become infected with leptospirosis might not have any signs of the disease. Others will have nonspecific flu-like signs within 2-7 days after exposure. These symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment, but can reappear and lead to more severe disease.

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacteria that is normally found on the skin of people and animals. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is the same bacterium that has become resistant to some antibiotics. Dogs, cats and other animals often can carry MRSA without being sick, but MRSA can cause a variety of infections, including of the skin, respiratory tract, and urinary tract. MRSA can be transmitted back and forth between people and animals through direct contact. In people, MRSA most often causes skin infections that can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, MRSA can spread to the bloodstream or lungs and cause life-threatening infections.

dog and cat2


Ringworm is a condition caused by a fungus that can infect skin, hair, and nails of both people and animals. Ringworm is passed from animals to people through direct contact with an infected animal’s skin or hair. Cats and dogs infected with ringworm typically have small areas of hair loss and may have scaly or crusty skin; but some pets carrying ringworm have no signs of infection at all. Young animals are most commonly affected. Ringworm infections in people can appear on almost any area of the body. These infections are usually itchy. Redness, scaling, cracking of the skin, or a ring-shaped rash may occur. If the infection involves the scalp or beard, hair may fall out. Infected nails become discolored or thick and may possibly crumble.


Toxocara roundworms cause a parasitic disease known as toxocariasis. Cats, dogs, and people can become infected by swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment. Pets can also become infected as youngsters through their mother’s milk or while in utero. Infected puppies and kittens usually do not seem very sick. Those that do may have mild diarrhea, dehydration, rough coat, and a pot-bellied appearance. In people, children are most often affected with roundworm. There are two forms of the disease in people: ocular larva migrans and visceral larva migrans. Ocular larva migrans happens when the larvae invade the retina (tissue in the eye) and cause inflammation, scarring, and possibly blindness. Visceral larva migrans occurs when the larvae invade parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, or central nervous system.


Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can spread to people and animals through contaminated soil, water, or meat, and from contact with stool from an infected cat. Cats are the main source of infection to other animals but rarely appear sick. Most healthy people who become infected with Toxoplasma show no signs or symptoms. However, pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems may be at risk for serious health complications.

What are Zoonotic Diseases???

zoonotic diseases


Zoonotic diseases are infectious diseases caused by micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites) that are transmitted from animals to humans and vice-versa. Now, infectious diseases simply mean diseases that are easily transmitted or transferred from one person or animal to another. Examples of common infectious diseases in animals, taking dog as an example include Rabies, Mange, Leptospirosis, Babesiosis etc. And examples of common infectious diseases in humans in Nigeria include Tuberculosis, Malaria, Cholera, Rabies, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Lassa fever etc. All these disease examples for humans (except HIV/AIDS) are zoonotic because they are usually transmitted from animals to humans. Other zoonotic infections are those gotten from the unhealthy consumption of food animals such as salmonellosis, tuberculosis, worm infections etc.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC), zoonotic diseases are about 60% of all infectious diseases that affect mankind and they have represented 75% of new human diseases in the last 10 years. Historically and in our present world, these diseases continue to have great local and global impacts mostly because they are easily transmitted and because various socioeconomic and environmental factors enable their presence. Also, the diseases are increasing in impact because of increase in globalization and travel, increased human-to-human and animal-human interaction, increase of human interference with nature and ecosystems.

Now, there are increased global concerns and efforts to make sure that zoonotic disease outbreaks are reduced to the barest minimum or prevented altogether. But apart from the work of health professionals, it is important that we (the public) know more about these diseases, so we can know how to protect ourselves and our animals at ALL times.

MyAnimal,MyHealth is a useful web tool to know more about these diseases and learn how to prevent and manage these diseases appropriately. Since zoonotic diseases cut across animal and human health, our network will guide you through this process of learning and interaction.

If you have any questions whatsoever, feel free to contact us.