Snail borne pathogen threat to life of children: Study

| | New Delhi
  • 0

Snail borne pathogen threat to life of children: Study

Sunday, 25 February 2024 | Archana Jyoti | New Delhi

Five-year-old Rahul’s (name changed) symptoms with complaints of persistent headache, fever, and irritability initially seemed innocuous, akin to common childhood ailments. However, upon examination, doctors diagnosed him with life-threatening eosinophilic meningoencephalitis (EM), a snail-borne pathogen.

A study spanning 14 years by doctors from Kochi-based Amrita Hospital doctors reveals that more than half of the examined children with EM reporting from South India had a history of direct contact with snails. The study findings underscore the urgency for healthcare professionals, parents, and policymakers to address this emerging threat.

“We are now picking up a higher number of EM among children in this region especially since the last decade. Most of these children were initially treated as bacterial, viral, or tuberculous meningitis sometimes for several weeks. A high index of clinical suspicion with appropriate investigations will be the key for early identification, especially in endemic areas,’” said Prof KP Vinayan, Head of the Department of Paediatric Neurology at Amrita Hospital.

“These infections, potentially serious and capable of causing death or permanent brain and nerve damage, are more prevalent among children playing in dirt and soil in snail-infested areas. Ensuring cleanliness and hygiene in residential premises and properly cleaning vegetables consumed raw, such as in salads, are essential preventive measures,” said Dr Vinayan hospital in the paper published in the journal Pediatric Neurology.

According to the health experts, humans are incidental hosts of the worms, getting infected through direct consumption or contaminated water and vegetables. Children become vulnerable to this infection by coming into direct contact with snails or by consuming contaminated food or playing with toys that carry infective larvae. The larvae can then travel from the gut to the brain, causing EM.

Another route of transmission is by consuming salads containing uncleaned raw vegetables and by eating the raw flesh of monitor lizards, crabs, frogs, and shrimps as part of socio-cultural practices or particular culinary habits, said the experts from the hospital.

“In a paradigm shift, our study reveals that EM is not as rare as previously thought, particularly in Kerala during post-monsoon months. The increase aligns with the surge in giant African Snail (Achatina fulica) population over the past 1-2 decades, highlighting the heightened risk for children living in regions abundant with these snails,” added Dr Vaishakh Anand, Department of Paediatric Neurology, Amrita Hospital. ARCHANA JYOTI n New Delhi

 

Five-year-old Rahul’s (name changed) symptoms with complaints of persistent headache, fever, and irritability initially seemed innocuous, akin to common childhood ailments. However, upon examination, doctors diagnosed him with life-threatening eosinophilic meningoencephalitis (EM), a snail-borne pathogen.

A study spanning 14 years by doctors from Kochi-based Amrita Hospital doctors reveals that more than half of the examined children with EM reporting from South India had a history of direct contact with snails. The study findings underscore the urgency for healthcare professionals, parents, and policymakers to address this emerging threat.

“We are now picking up a higher number of EM among children in this region especially since the last decade. Most of these children were initially treated as bacterial, viral, or tuberculous meningitis sometimes for several weeks. A high index of clinical suspicion with appropriate investigations will be the key for early identification, especially in endemic areas,’” said Prof KP Vinayan, Head of the Department of Paediatric Neurology at Amrita Hospital.

“These infections, potentially serious and capable of causing death or permanent brain and nerve damage, are more prevalent among children playing in dirt and soil in snail-infested areas. Ensuring cleanliness and hygiene in residential premises and properly cleaning vegetables consumed raw, such as in salads, are essential preventive measures,” said Dr Vinayan hospital in the paper published in the journal Pediatric Neurology.

According to the health experts, humans are incidental hosts of the worms, getting infected through direct consumption or contaminated water and vegetables. Children become vulnerable to this infection by coming into direct contact with snails or by consuming contaminated food or playing with toys that carry infective larvae. The larvae can then travel from the gut to the brain, causing EM.

Another route of transmission is by consuming salads containing uncleaned raw vegetables and by eating the raw flesh of monitor lizards, crabs, frogs, and shrimps as part of socio-cultural practices or particular culinary habits, said the experts from the hospital.

“In a paradigm shift, our study reveals that EM is not as rare as previously thought, particularly in Kerala during post-monsoon months. The increase aligns with the surge in giant African Snail (Achatina fulica) population over the past 1-2 decades, highlighting the heightened risk for children living in regions abundant with these snails,” added Dr Vaishakh Anand, Department of Paediatric Neurology, Amrita Hospital.

Sunday Edition

Astroturf | Reinvent yourself during Navaratra

14 April 2024 | Bharat Bhushan Padmadeo | Agenda

A DAY AWAITED FOR FIVE CENTURIES

14 April 2024 | Biswajeet Banerjee | Agenda

Navratri | A Festival of Tradition, Innovation, and Wellness

14 April 2024 | Divya Bhatia | Agenda

Spiritual food

14 April 2024 | Pioneer | Agenda

Healthier shift in Navratri cuisine

14 April 2024 | Pioneer | Agenda

SHUBHO NOBO BORSHO

14 April 2024 | Shobori Ganguli | Agenda