Porcine Cysticercosis is a zoonotic infestation with the larval form of tapeworm in pigs.

Causative agent

Porcine Cysticercosis is caused by Taenia solium. Taenia spp. are long, segmented, parasitic tapeworms (family Taeniidae, subclass Cestoda). These parasites have an indirect life cycle, cycling between a definitive and an intermediate host. Humans are the definitive hosts for Taenia solium.

Geography

Cysticercosis is most common in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa. It is particularly prevalent in rural areas where domestic pigs are allowed to roam freely.

Impact

Cysticercosis infections are a serious public health and agricultural problem in many poorer countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Worldwide there are around five million human cases and 50,000 human deaths reported each year. Cysticercosis also causes significant economic losses to pig farmers.

Epidemiology

The definitive hosts (humans) for Taenia solium are infected when they ingest tissues from the intermediate host (pig) that contain larvae (cysticerci). Intermediate hosts become infected when they ingest eggs that were shed in the faeces of the definitive host.

Clinical signs

T. solium cysticerci are found mainly in the skeletal or heart muscles, liver, and brain. The symptoms of cysticercosis are caused mainly by inflammation associated with degenerating larvae and by the mechanical effects of the parasites.

Control

Increasing awareness about the risk factors and measures to address public hygiene, especially through making the use of adequate latrines is essential to combat this parasitic disease. Also, antiparasitic medications are available and a vaccine against Taenia solium is being developed.

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