Thai Health Authorities Plan To Screen Residents Of Northeast Region For Deadly Fluke Worms

Health officials in northeast Thailand plan to screen residents over the age of 30 for fluke worms, which can be cured with one tablet of praziquantel or lead to fatal bile duct cancer in 10 to 20 years if left untreated, Reuters reports.

“Rivers in northeast Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Koreas and China are infested with the tiny parasitic worms which find their way into the human body when seafood is eaten raw,” the news service writes. Though drug treatment is effective against the parasites, people must stop consuming raw seafood to prevent re-infection. The program plans to screen stool samples, provide ultrasounds to look for tumors in any person over 40 who is infected, and perform surgery to remove tumors that are detected, according to Pongsadhorn Pokpermdee, a health economist and public health deputy for Nongbualanpoo province in the northeast, Reuters notes (Lyn, 6/30).

Bile duct cancer, though rare, “is the leading cause of death in the Mekong region and one of many neglected tropical diseases,” according to a Reuters factbox on neglected tropical diseases (Lyn, 6/30).