Raw blood dishes lead to 'brain worms' in Vietnam

Thanh Nien News

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A CT scan photo provided by doctors at the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases shows worms making home in the brain of a 58-year-old patient, who likes eating pig blood pudding

A fan of raw pig blood pudding has been admitted to a major Hanoi hospital with parasitic worms in his brain.

The 58-year-old victim from the nearby mountainous province of Lang Son was partly conscious and suffering seizure when admitted to the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases on May 12.
CT scan found that worms have made roughly 50 homes in the different layers of his brain, VnExpress reported.
The results confirmed doctors’ suspicions after he told them he often ate raw pig blood pudding (known as “tiet canh”) and an exotic Vietnamese dish of pig intestines and raw vegetables.
Dr Nguyen Trung Cap, deputy head of the hospital’s emergency department, said parasitic worms often reside in pig intestines and can attach to the blood during butchering.
Larvae discharged into the environment can end up in vegetables where they're passed on to humans when they are not properly washed or cooked, he said.
The worms move throughout the body and when they come to the brain, they can become deadly. They can also make a home in one’s eyes, causing blindness.
Cap said the hospital received 30-40 patients suffering from brain worms a year. Treatment can require surgery.
He said early treatment usually cures patients, but some patients were left with brain calcification that affected their memory, concentration and ability to move.
Dr Nguyen Nhu Lam, head of the virus and parasite department at the hospital, said some patients only came to them after months or years of unsuccessful treatments from smaller hospitals, as their symptoms (weak concentration and seizures) often get misdiagnosed as epilepsy.
Doctors said one can protect themselves by maintaining good personal hygiene, washing hands before meals and after using the toilet, controlling waste if breeding pigs and cattle, and staying away from raw blood and meat dishes.

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