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Paragonimiasis: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About paragonimiasis

Paragonimiasis is a parasitic infection caused by lung fluke or ‘Paragonimus westermani’. It mainly affects the lungs, though, it may rarely affect other parts of the body as well

Paragonimiasis: Incidence, age and sex

Paragonimiasis is an uncommon infection, which is seen in some parts of Southeast Asia, West Africa and Central America. There does not seem to be any genetic predilection.

Signs and symptoms of paragonimiasis: Diagnosis

The chief clinical features of paragonimiasis include fever and cough. The cough may be associated with sputum which may be rusty in colour or streaked with blood. The affected individual may also experience breathlessness and chest pain. Other uncommon features include abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Rarely some individuals may complain of skin lesions which may exhibit redness and swelling.

The diagnosis is established by detection of eggs of lung fluke in stool or sputum. Radiological examination of the chest may help in corroborating the diagnosis of paragonimiasis.

Causes and prevention of paragonimiasis

Paragonimiasis is a parasitic infection, which is acquired through ingesting poorly cooked food, especially crayfish and crabs. The parasite (lung fluke) enters the digestive system from where it passes into the body before settling into the lung tissue within 3 to 6 hours. They are encapsulated in the form of cyst. It takes 65 to 90 days for them to develop fully into adult worm but the symptoms may start earlier. These flukes shed eggs and the cyst rupture inside the lungs. They are thrown out of the body through sputum or stool. The adult fluke may remain in the body for 20 years.

Prevention can be done by cleaning the crab or crayfish properly and cooking them at high temperatures. It is also important to wash hands before eating and after coughing. This will help in preventing re-infection or passing on the infection to others.

Paragonimiasis: Complications

Paragonimiasis may cause distressing complications. Due to breathing difficulty, the affected individual may find difficulty in performing strenuous physical activity. The fluke can get deposited in other areas of the body like liver or brain which may result in serious implications.

Paragonimiasis: Treatment

The treatment of paragonimiasis includes anti-parasitic medications like Praziquantel or Bithionol. These drugs are quite effective in eliminate the offending parasites from the body. Symptomatic relief may be provided by medications for diarrhoea and cough. Adequate fluids are advised to prevent any dehydration due to diarrhoea. Acetaminophen medication may also be prescribed for fever and malaise.