The safety of food is very important, as well as its hygienic handling.
Some intestinal parasites, including protozoa or helminths, can be transmitted through the consumption of contaminated food or through improper handling both at home and in different Food Services that do not comply with sanitary standards and techniques in food handling.
What is a parasite?
A parasite is an organism that uses to live in or on an organism and feeds at its expense.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, the parasites that are frequently transmitted through food consumption are:
– Protozoa that are usually transmitted by the fecal-oral route, whether they are contaminated food or water or by person-to-person contact, and live in the human intestine. Cyclospora cayetanensis, Toxoplasma gondii and Cryptosporidium Giardia Intestinalis species. An example of a protozoan is the well-known “Amoeba” Entamoeba histolytica.
– Helminths or Worms of the Anisakis species, Trichinella. Example: Worm Ascaris lumbricoides.
– Tapeworms of the species Taenia and Diphyllobothrium.
How can these parasites be transmitted?
Many of these parasites can be transmitted by contaminated water that you consume or used in food preparation or by parasites found in the soil or transmitted by person-to-person contact, especially when preparing food.
Helminthic worms and tapeworms are often foodborne in many developing countries, less frequently in the US.
The foods that are usually a vehicle for the transmission of parasites are:
-Crab, shellfish and raw or undercooked fish.
-Raw or undercooked meat.
-Aquatic vegetables, such as watercress.
-Raw vegetables contaminated by animal or human feces.
Take care what you eat and where you eat
Sometimes when preparing food, people who cook as they are carriers of a parasite if they do not wash their hands can contaminate the food.
Food places or services must always comply with hygiene standards in the preparation and handling of food, as well as their personnel and utensils and work equipment.
The establishment must always be regulated by health authorities.
What are the symptoms of a foodborne parasitic infection?
Symptoms and intensity usually vary depending on the type of parasite:
-Diarrhea, some protozoa such as Giardia intestinalis, Cyclospora cayetanensis or Cryptosporidium can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
-Abdominal pain usually occurs in helminth infections, as well as diarrhea, muscle aches, skin lesions, cough, malnutrition, weight loss and sometimes neurological symptoms.
Fortunately, there is adequate deworming treatment.
It is advisable to know what type of parasite you have through clinical stool analysis such as coproparasitoscopic, stool culture, “fresh amoeba”, blood test for amebiasis, among others prescribed in your Health Center or by a Specialist in infectious diseases recommended by your doctor .
If you are using a natural remedy to fight a parasite, always check with your doctor first.
It is preferable that the treatment or medication is clinically proven and specific prescribed by your doctor to combat a particular parasite than a generic drug, since your parasite may be resistant. So always consult your doctor and avoid self-deworming.
Preventing yourself from parasites is the key
A series of personal hygiene and hygienic food handling measures are key to avoiding infestation with parasites. Between them:
-Hand washing before preparing and consuming food. And before and after going to the bathroom.
-Use drinking water in the preparation of food.
-Washing and disinfection of fruits and vegetables.
-Do not consume raw meat and fish. Always eat them well cooked.
-Storage of water and food properly.
-Avoid eating in unhygienic establishments or that are not sanitary regulated.
Your health is in your hands, wash them frequently!