Thursday, May 31, 2018 by Zoey Sky
Paragonimiasis is a parasitic infection caused by the lung fluke Paragonimus westermani (P. westermani) and related species. Humans can get infected when they consume pickled, poorly cooked, or raw freshwater crustaceans.
Flukes are parasitic flatworms that can infect various parts of the body like the blood vessels, gastrointestinal tract, liver, and lungs, depending on the species.
Important endemic areas to take note of include the Far East, especially the highlands of China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan.
Known symptoms, risk factors for paragonimiasis
During invasion and migration of the flukes, the side effects of paragonimiasis usually include:
- Abdominal pain
- Hepatosplenomegaly – A condition where both the liver and spleen swell beyond the usual size.
- Pulmonary abnormalities
- Urticaria – A skin rash.
During the chronic phase, the side effects of paragonimiasis may include:
- Chest pain
- Chronic cough
- Hemoptysis – Coughing up blood.
- Lung damage
- Dyspnea – Difficulty breathing.
Cerebral infections may include side effects like:
- Aphasia – Language impairment.
- Paresis – Muscular weakness due to nerve damage.
- Space-occupying lesions – These often manifest after at least one year following the onset of pulmonary disease.
- Visual disturbances
Risk factors for paragonimiasis may include:
- Exposure to several species of Paragonimus – Cases involving P. westermani often occurs in Asia (e.g., China, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam). P. africanus causes infection in Africa, and P. mexicanus in Central and South America.
- Consuming freshwater crustaceans – Includes specialty dishes where shellfish are consumed raw or prepared only in brine, vinegar, or wine without cooking. Raw crabs or crayfish are also used in traditional medicine practices in Japan, Korea, and several parts of Africa. Human paragonimiasis infections caused by P. kellicotti are linked to the ingestion of uncooked crawfish served on river raft float trips in Missouri.
Body systems harmed by paragonimiasis
Paragonimiasis can cause various complications.
- Cerebral complications may include coma and seizures.
- Other complications of the condition include bronchopneumonia, empyema, lung abscess, or pleural effusion.
- Untreated infections may cause bronchiectasis, bronchitis, and interstitial pneumonia.
Food items or nutrients that may prevent paragonimiasis
The following foods or nutrients can help prevent paragonimiasis:
- Coconut and onions – Both coconuts and onions contain compounds that can reduce parasites and help promote a healthy weight.
- Garlic – Garlic can help treat parasitic infestation in humans.
- Papaya seeds – Papaya seeds have antihelminthic and anti-amoebic properties that can help treat human parasites.
- Pineapple – This fruit has a compound called bromelain that can help stop parasitic infections and improve digestive health.
- Sunflower seeds – Sunflower seeds can flush out parasites by preventing them from successfully penetrating the host system.
- Turmeric – The extract and the essential oil of turmeric, or Curcuma longa, can help stop the growth of parasites.
Treatments, management plans for paragonimiasis
Treatment for paragonimiasis may include:
- Medication – Cerebral involvement may require medication to control seizures. Bithionol may be used as an alternative treatment. Praziquantel and triclabendazole are two drugs often used to treat paragonimiasis. Praziquantel, the most commonly used drug, has an 80 to 90 percent cure rate.
- Surgery – Patients who develop extrapulmonary disease require surgery to treat lesions. Laparoscopic surgery, or minimally invasive surgery (MIS), may also be recommended.
Where to learn more
Paragonimiasis is a parasitic infection causd by the lung fluke Paragonimus westermani (P. westermani) and related species. Humans can get infected when they consume pickled, poorly cooked, or raw freshwater crustaceans.
During invasion and migration of the flukes, the side effects of paragonimiasis usually include abdominal pain, cough, and diarrhea.
Paragonimiasis may cause complications like bronchitis, pleural effusion, and seizures.