Iowa is warning about a new tapeworm diet that medical experts are claiming could cause significant health problems.
The health warning has been issued by the medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health, and comes after a physician cared for a patient who said she'd swallowed a tapeworm she had purchased on the Internet.
The woman claimed that the website told her that if she swallowed a tapeworm it would helped her lose weight. However, the tapeworm had made her ill.
Dr. Patricia Quinlisk spoke about the incident in her weekly email to public health workers around Iowa, warning medics to warn patients about attempting to go on the tapeworm diet.
Quinlisk has informed that tapeworm eggs were sold in pill form as a weight-loss aid a century ago. However, it has since been found that ingesting tapeworms "is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths."
Officials have explained that tapeworms can live for years in a person's intestines and grow to several feet long, making the person seriously sick and can even result in death in the most drastic cases.
Tapeworms can be accidentally ingested in undercooked meat, and the public has been warned to ensure all meat is thoroughly cooked to lower the risk of such an occurrence.
In the recent case in Iowa the patient was prescribed an anti-worm medication that should help her recover.