Unhygienic street food can trigger seizures: Experts

Popular food items like burgers and chowmein from roadside stalls can be primary causes behind increase in seizure cases among children.

An ongoing survey at AIIMS shows that children with neurocysticercosis (NCC) are on the rise at the hospital. Neurocysticercosis is a condition caused by a worm taenia solium. This leads to seizures in children.

In 2014, AIIMS has received 80 such cases till July. The numbers of such cases have gone up in the past three years. In a majority of the 80 cases, the patients are vegetarians.

“Humans get infected by ingesting tapeworm eggs which are present in contaminated food or water. These eggs are passed by infected person during defecation. Once these eggs reach human intestine, it migrates to all body parts including the brain,” said Dr Sheffali Gulati, Chief, Child Neurology Division, Department of Pediatrics, AIIMS.

Food items like burgers and chowmein often become the greatest source of contamination because of the presence of improperly washed vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower or spinach in them.

However, parents often overlook the necessity to curb down on such food items as there is less awareness that these commonly cause seizures. In cases, which have long term effects, it leads to epilepsy.

“In the ongoing survey, it was observed that consumption of street food and presence of pigs in vicinity were common causes in patients with NCC,” said Dr Gulati.
This condition also leads to headache, vomiting and visual disturbance.

“People defecating in the open in our country is another reason why the chances of contracting infection go up. Cabbages, cauliflowers grown in the open are easily contaminated,” said Dr Gulati.

The survey shows that those exposed to unsafe drinking water and street food form the significant chunk of the patients.

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