Clip of adult feeding child tadpoles goes viral in China, paediatrician warns of possible infection

In a clip posted on Sina Weibo, YouTube and other social media channels, a woman is shown spooning a swimming tadpole from a bowl of water into a toddler's mouth.
In a clip posted on Sina Weibo, YouTube and other social media channels, a woman is shown spooning a swimming tadpole from a bowl of water into a toddler's mouth.SCREENGRAB: YOUTUBE/PEARVIDEO

A video clip on Chinese social media showing an adult feeding a toddler what appears to be tadpoles in a bowl of liquid prompted a Chinese paediatrician to warn the public of possible infection that could arise from doing so.

In a clip posted on Sina Weibo, YouTube and other social media channels, a woman is shown spooning a swimming tadpole from a bowl of water into a toddler's mouth.

She is heard cooing: "Little fish? Little fish."

The child appears to swallow the tiny creature. It is unclear when or where the incident occurred.

The video caused outrage among netizens in China, who slammed the woman for her actions.

Facebook user Lai Han Ng commented on a version of the video, posted by Orange News, saying: "This adult simply has no brain."

Rachel Wong wrote: "This (boy) is so pitiful. The family members are fools!"

A paediatrician, Dr Pei, wrote in a Weibo post on Sunday that the practice was one detailed in Chinese herbology book The Compendium of Materia Medica, a book written by physician and herbalist Li Shizhen during the Ming Dynasty in the 1500s.

"It is said to be able to detoxify sores or ulcers," Dr Pei wrote. "However, eating live tadpoles like that, even children without sores can develop sores, because they could contract infections from the germs on the tadpoles' bodies."

He shared a photo of a parasitic infection he had once found in a child's stomach, in an operating theatre.

"This can come from eating raw tadpoles, frogs, snakes," he said.

According to online versions of The Compendium of Materia Medica, the use of tadpoles to "cure" sores or welts requires the creatures to be mashed into a pulp.

The paste is then supposed to be applied on the sores, along with mashed mulberries.

A study called A Neglected Risk For Sparganosis: Eating Live Tadpoles In central China, approved by the Life Science Ethics Committee of Zhengzhou University and published in the Infectious Diseases Of Poverty Journal last year, tackles the odd practice.

The study says that sparganosis, or a type of parasitic infection, caused by ingesting live tadpoles was emerging in central china.

"Our surveys showed that 11.93 per cent of tadpoles in Henan province are infected with plerocercoids (the infective larval form of tapeworms)," it said. "Eating live tadpoles is a high risk for sparganum infection. Comprehensive public health education should be carried out for people in endemic areas and the bad habit of eating live tadpoles must be discouraged."