Can You Get Tapeworm From Eating Bacon?

A Florida man who had migraines all the time was found to have tapeworm eggs growing in his brain, according to a report in the American Journal of Case Reports.

“It is historically very unusual to encounter infected pork in the United States,” researchers wrote. “Our case may have public health implications. “.

Bacon is one of the most beloved breakfast foods. The crispy, salty, smoky strips of pork belly meat have an irresistible flavor that enhances many dishes. However, undercooked or raw bacon may potentially harbor parasites like tapeworms.

Eating undercooked pork products can, in rare cases, transfer tapeworm larvae to humans. Tapeworm infection is uncommon in the United States but proper cooking kills any parasites. Here’s what you need to know about the risks of getting tapeworm from bacon.

What is Tapeworm?

Tapeworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive tracts of various animals The two main species that can infect humans are

  • Pork tapeworm (Taenia solium) – From undercooked pork
  • Beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata) – From undercooked beef

Tapeworms have long, flat bodies composed of segments. They absorb nutrients from the intestines of their hosts. Tapeworm larvae form cysts that can migrate to muscles, eyes and the brain.

When humans ingest tapeworm eggs the larvae can hatch, embed in tissues and cause an infection called cysticercosis. Neurocysticercosis specifically refers to larvae embedded in the brain.

Can You Get Tapeworm from Eating Bacon?

Undercooked or raw pork products like bacon may contain tapeworm larvae. So yes you can potentially get tapeworm from eating bacon if

  • The bacon comes from an infected pig.
  • The bacon is not cooked thoroughly to kill any larvae.
  • You ingest live larvae that hatch and embed in tissues.

Proper handling and cooking destroys any parasites like tapeworms and makes bacon safe to eat. Tapeworm infection is quite uncommon in the U.S. due to regulations that prevent infected pork from reaching consumers.

But there is a small risk of tapeworms from bacon if you eat it raw or undercooked. The less thoroughly bacon is cooked, the greater the odds tapeworm larvae could survive.

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To eliminate the risk of tapeworms or other parasites, always cook bacon thoroughly before eating. Follow these tips:

  • Cook until crispy and browned throughout. Raw areas can harbor parasites.

  • Bake bacon in the oven on a sheet pan instead of frying. Oven heat distribution is more even.

  • Flip bacon over halfway during cooking to kill parasites on both sides.

  • Ensure bacon reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F, measured with a food thermometer.

  • Do not eat partially cooked bacon or raw bacon.

If you prefer your bacon not too crispy, use thicker slices and turn down the heat. This allows the interior to cook through while the exterior remains tender.

Can You Get Tapeworm from Undercooked Bacon?

Yes, undercooked bacon may contain living tapeworm larvae if infected. Consuming raw or undercooked bacon increases the risk of contracting tapeworms since the parasites could still be alive.

Cases of tapeworm infection from bacon are extremely rare, but the possibility exists if:

  • Bacon is infected and not cooked to 145°F minimum internal temperature.

  • Live larvae are ingested and able to migrate to tissues and survive.

  • Repeated consumption of undercooked infected pork allows parasites to accumulate.

Properly frozen and thawed bacon should kill any parasites prior to cooking. But always cook thawed bacon thoroughly as well, to 145°F, just to be safe.

Symptoms of Tapeworms from Bacon

If infected with tapeworms from undercooked bacon, watch for these possible symptoms:

  • Nausea, diarrhea, cramping, increased appetite.

  • Visible tapeworm segments passed in stool.

  • Cysts felt under skin or seen in X-rays and scans.

  • Neurological issues like headaches, seizures (for neurocysticercosis).

  • Visible larvae in the eyes if eye infected.

Seek medical treatment if showing any symptoms of tapeworm infection. Treatment involves anti-parasitic medications.

How to Prevent Tapeworm Infection

You can prevent getting tapeworms from bacon by:

  • Cooking all pork products including bacon to safe 145°F internal temperature.

  • Avoiding raw or undercooked pork.

  • Washing hands and cooking surfaces after handling raw bacon.

  • Avoiding cross-contamination of other foods with uncooked bacon.

  • Freezing pork below 0°F for over 1 week to kill parasites before cooking.

  • Removing pork from heat at 145°F since temperature will continue rising.

Following basic food safety guidelines when handling and cooking bacon is the best way to avoid potential parasitic infections like tapeworms. While cases are very uncommon in the U.S., it is still smart to take precautions.

can you get tapeworm from bacon

What happened in the Florida case of the man with tapeworm eggs?

Almost every week, a 52-year-old man with a history of migraines and type 2 diabetes told doctors that his migraines were getting worse.

He hadnt traveled to any high-risk areas and “denied eating raw or street food.”

After tests like a CT scan, an MRI, and an infectious disease workup, it was found that the man had antibodies against cysticercosis, which confirmed the suspicion of neurocysticercosis.

Treatment followed and the the headaches improved, according to the American Journal of Case Reports.

‘Improper handwashing’ probably caused tapeworm eggs to end up in man’s brain

“Our patient’s lifelong preference for soft bacon may have led to instances of undercooked bacon consumption, but this would have caused him to develop taeniasis, an intestinal tapeworm, and not cysticercosis,” according to the American Journal of Case Reports.

Taeniasis is the infection of humans with the adult tapeworm, which happens when you eat raw or undercooked pork and the larval cysts in the meat, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Cysticercosis is an infection caused by the larvae of the parasite Taenia solium, which occurs after a person swallows tapeworm eggs. The larvae get into tissues such as muscle and brain, and form cysts called cysticerci. When cysts are found in the brain, the condition is called neurocysticercosis, the CDC said.

“It can only be speculated, but given our patient’s predilection for undercooked pork . We think that he got cysticercosis by infecting himself with it after not washing his hands properly after getting taeniasis from the food he ate. “.

A Man Ate Undercooked Pork, This Is What Doctors Found Inside His Brain

Which foods carry tapeworm eggs?

Unwashed fruits and vegetables also can carry tapeworm eggs. Lack of sanitation and sewage. Lack of sanitation and sewage for human waste increases the risk of livestock getting tapeworm eggs from people. This increases the risk of people eating infected meat.

How does one get rid of tapeworms?

The most common treatment for tapeworms is a medication called praziquantel. It is taken as a single dose and kills the adult tapeworms. Sometimes, a doctor may advise a procedure to remove the tapeworm which may involve endoscopy or surgery.

Did a man get a tapeworm from eating underdone pork?

Doctors put the condition down to “improper handwashing”. They believe the man, who got a tapeworm from eating underdone pork, infected himself. Cysticercosis is a type of infection caused by the larvae of the parasite Taenia solium (T.solium), also known as pork tapeworm, which can lead to cysts (cysticerci) developing in the brain.

Can tapeworms infect humans?

There are two exceptions to the typical life cycle of tapeworms that can infect humans. Pork tapeworms. Humans can be a definitive host or an intermediate host for pork tapeworms. For example, a person can have adult pork tapeworms from eating undercooked pork. The eggs pass in the person’s stool.

Does cooking meat kill tapeworms?

While properly cooking and/or freezing meats can kill tapeworms, when any cut of meat is suspected to be infected with any pathogen the best course of action is to discard it. Cooking meats well helps reduce the risk that it contains any live parasites, but raw meat, poultry, and fish comes with no such protection and eating them should be avoided.

How did a man get a tapeworm?

The researchers concluded that the man most likely contracted the parasite via “autoinfection.” He may have gotten an intestinal tapeworm, called taeniasis, from eating undercooked bacon that had larval cysts in it and then, after improper handwashing, eaten the tapeworm eggs that he had excreted in feces, leading to neurocysticercosis.

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