5 tips on avoiding parasitic worms


Lots of parents go to extremes to make sure their kids have the best opportunities, but one mom went completely overboard in her efforts to get her daughter to win at beauty pageants. An ER nurse recounted a shocking story on a recent reality show, Untold Stories of the ER, according to Gawker.

The teen daughter was admitted to the ER with abdominal pain, but, after an ultrasound revealed no pregnancy, she was found in the bathroom in agony over a toilet bowl which was full of writhing tapeworms.

This prompted the shocked mother to admit that she’d fed the girl tapeworm eggs in order to help her “get skinny” for beauty pageants.

Tapeworms and other human parasites

According to Health24, tapeworm infection is most often contracted when a human eats raw or poorly-cooked pork containing tapeworm cysts. Then poor hygiene (not washing hands after going to the loo) can result in the eggs being passed on to others.

After infection, the larvae can pass through the bloodstream to different parts of the body including the eyes, brain and spinal cord. Infection can cause headaches, seizures, paralysis, blindness and even death.

Cooking pork properly, washing hands and other good hygiene practices, especially when handling animals or animal products will help to prevent infection. An anti-parasitic drug clears up tapeworm which is diagnosed when eggs or white worm-shaped parasites are visible in the stool.


Pinworms are also contracted when a person touches a contaminated object or person, and then puts their hand in their mouth. Pinworms are small white worms which look a little like dental floss in a child’s stool. They are treated with a double dose of medication which close family members should also take.

When travelling:

Bilharzia is a worm infection which is a problem in parts of Africa, South America, South-East Asia, the Carribean islands and South China. Take the drug praziquantel along when travelling to these areas. Other worm infections are particularly common in developing countries where sanitation is often poor and access to clean drinking water limited. The drug mebendazole (Vermox) offers effective treatment against most worm infections.

Tapeworm eggs are used (ill-advisedly and at great risk to the health of the individual ingesting them) as an extreme form of weight control. A doctor advised against the practise which is illegal in the US, according to Today.com.

Cleanliness is a vital tool when it comes to avoiding worm infections.

Do you ever check your child for worms?

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