Cysticercosis is a disease, which affects the muscles of infected animals. The livestock species that are generally affected include cattle and pigs. The larvae of a human tapeworm induce cysticercosis.
There have never been any known cases of porcine cysticercosis (pig) in Canada, and it is induced by the larvae of the human tapeworm called Taenia solium. Further information about porcine cysticercosis can be gotten from the Public Health Agency website.
Cases of bovine cysticercosis, which affects cattle and bison, have been detected in Canada. However, these cases are rare — the last confirmed case was in 2013.
Bovine cysticercosis is prompted by the larvae of the human tapeworm called Taenia saginata. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has policies in place to assist in preventing the spread of this disease in Canada.
Is cysticercosis risky to human health?
Avoid eating meat that isn’t adequately cooked because it might be infected.
People who consume improperly cooked meat have a high risk of contracting the tapeworm infection. If you believe that you might have been exposed to this parasite, kindly contact your local health authority as soon as you can.
However, you can prevent this from happening by cooking your meat well (at a safe temperature) as this would exterminate any larvae present.
Symptoms of cysticercosis
Cysticercosis diseases in cattle and swine might not produce any symptoms. The signs of tapeworm infection in people are always not evident, but if existing, it includes:
- Abdominal pain
- Itchiness around the anus
Less popular symptoms can include:
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
Where can cysticercosis be found?
Cysticercosis has a widespread distribution. It is most common in nations where poor sanitation practices on farms are popular and where cultural habits comprise eating underdone meat.
Bovine cysticercosis can be found sporadically in Canada, while porcine cysticercosis has never been seen in Canada.
How does cysticercosis spread?
Animals can be infected with cysticercosis when they consume foods that are contaminated with tapeworm eggs that originated from human faeces.
Cysticercosis isn’t transferred directly from animal-to-animal or from person-to-person. In a conventional cattle barn environment, tapeworm eggs are estimated to last for about 18 months.
Tapeworm eggs are also immune to several common disinfectants. However, they can be eliminated by drought because they can’t survive in an arid habitat.
Diagnosis depends on the observation of cyststicerosis in the muscle tissue of animals during carcass examination.
Suspicious lesions must be sent to a lab to verify the diagnosis.
Treatment for cysticercosis
There is no solution to this infection in living animals.
What functions and responsibilities are in place to prevent cysticercosis?
Everyone has a part to play in preventing cysticercosis disease. At the farm level, it is crucial to avoid the contamination of animal feed and feeding areas by human faeces.
Cysticercosis is a “reportable disease” under the Health of Animals Act. This implies that all suspected cases should be reported to the CFIA for proper investigation by inspectors.
The CFIA’s National Cysticercosis Program is created to conserve human health by detecting contaminated cattle and swine at slaughter. Carcasses are examined at registered abattoirs under the CFIA meat hygiene scheme.
All non-federally registered abattoirs are required to report any suspected case of bovine cysticercosis to the CFIA for investigation.
If an infected animal is noticed while being slaughtered, the CFIA using its cysticercosis disease control policy will investigate the farm area. Contaminated carcasses are either condemned or may join the food chain after treatment.
At home, meat should be simmered to safe internal temperatures to enable the elimination of any likely infection. Appropriately cooking meat will eradicate any larvae present.
How would the CFIA respond to a case of cysticercosis?
The CFIA examines all potential cases and carries the following actions:
- Likely farms of origin, as well as all areas where the animals may have dwelled, are examined.
- Places presumed to be the source of infection are instantly placed under CFIA control.
- Under the supervision of the CFIA, owners are compelled to take specific actions that include cleaning & disinfection, disposal of polluted feed, and many more, in order to eliminate the source of infection.
- Cattle or swine that reside on infected farms are transported to a federally-inspected abattoir where they’re slaughtered if they’ve reached market weight.
- Severely infected carcasses are condemned and removed accordingly. In contrast, carcasses that aren’t harshly infected are treated by refrigerating for ten days at -10°C or heated to at least 60°C to eliminate the parasite. The treated meat can join the food chain when treatment is finalized.
- The CFIA gains control of the affected areas until the source of infection has been eradicated, and there is slaughter proof that the flock is free of the parasite.
Bovine cysticercosis is challenging to diagnose in living animals, but if the animal is heavily infected, cysticercosis may be noticed on the tongue as well as the face.