124 kids found to have tapeworms in northern Vietnam

As of Sunday morning, the flow of anxious parents bringing their children for tapeworm testing to Hanoi from the nearby Bac Ninh had not stopped.

The National Hospital of Tropical Diseases and the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology (NIMPE) have continued to receive hundreds of children every day for several days now.

Vu Minh Dien, an official with the quality control department of the National Hospital of Tropical Diseases, said about 100 children got tested this morning, bringing the total number of children brought to the facility over the past few days to more than 800. As of March 15, the institute had confirmed 44 tapeworm infections, but this number is expected to rise, with many test results still awaited.

At NIMPE, nearly 700 children had been tested as of Saturday and 75 children found positive for tapeworms.

On Sunday, an additional 160 children had arrived for testing.

Earlier in the week, both institutes had reported that five children from Thanh Khuong Commune had tapeworm infections, raising the total number to 124.

To Mai Hoa, director of the Bac Ninh Health Department, said the province will coordinate with concerned agencies to test and support the cost of testing for students of 19 preschools in the area. The cost ranges from VND700,000-1,000,000 ($30.25-43.21).

The Bac Ninh health sector will also organize onsite testing for children in some preschools suspected of carrying the infection.

Thousands of parents have rushed to Hanoi with their kids since last week after news broke out that 57 children of the Thanh Khuong Kindergarten in Bac Ninh had been found with tapeworm infections.

Late last month, pork suspected to be infected with the parasite was found in the school’s kitchen, but the actual source of the tapeworms has not been confirmed yet.

Pork tapeworms, or Taenia solium, are distributed globally. The parasite infects humans through the consumption of contaminated food.

Upon infection, tapeworms can travel to different organs, including muscles, eyes and brain. Symptoms include seizure, paralysis, headaches and memory loss if the parasite does migrate to the brain, or blindness if it gets to the eyes.

It takes a day to kill mature tapeworms and two weeks to destroy all eggs inside a human body.

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