Tapeworm infestation is the infection of the digestive tract by adult
parasitic flatworms called cestodes or tapeworms. Live tapeworm larvae
(coenuri) are sometimes ingested by consuming undercooked food. Once
inside the digestive tract, a larva can grow into a very large adult
tapeworm. Additionally, many tapeworm larvae cause symptoms in an
intermediate host. For example, cysticercosis is a disease of humans
involving larval tapeworms in the human body.
Among the most common tapeworms in humans are the pork tapeworm (T.
solium), the beef tapeworm (T. saginata), the fish tapeworm
(Diphyllobothrium spp.), and the dwarf tapeworm (Hymenolepis spp.).
Infections involving the pork and beef tapeworms are also called
taeniasis. Tapeworms of the genus Echinococcus infect and cause the
most harm to intermediate hosts such as sheep and cattle. Infection
with this type of tapeworm is referred to as Echinococcosis or hydatid
disease. Symptoms vary widely, as do treatment options, and these
issues are discussed in detail in the individual articles on each worm.
With a few notable exceptions like the fish tapeworm, most cestodes
that infect humans and livestock are cyclophyllids, and can be
identified as such by the presence of four suckers on their scolex or
Most occurrences are found in areas which lack adequate sanitation and
include Southeast Asia, West Africa, and East Africa.
Although tapeworms in the intestine usually cause no symptoms, some
people experience upper abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and loss of
appetite. Anemia may develop in people with the fish tapeworm.
Infection is generally recognized when the infected person passes
segments of proglottids in the stool (looks like white worms),
especially if a segment is moving.
Rarely, worms may cause obstruction of the intestine. And very rarely,
T. solium larvae can migrate to the brain causing severe headaches,
seizures and other neurological problems. This condition is called
neurocysticercosis. It can take years of development before the patient
has those symptoms of the brain.
Tapeworms are treated with medications taken by mouth, usually in a
single dose. The drug of choice for tapeworm infections is niclosamide.
Praziquantel and albendazole can also be used.
Ingestion of eggs
Tapeworm eggs are generally ingested through food, water or soil
contaminated with human or animal (host) feces. For example, if a pig
is infected with a tapeworm, it may pass eggs or segments (proglottids)
of the adult tapeworm through its feces into soil. Each segment
contains thousands of microscopic tapeworm eggs. These eggs can be
ingested via food contaminated with the feces. Once the eggs have been
ingested, they develop into larvae, which can migrate out of the
intestines and form cysts in other tissues such as the lungs or liver.
This type of infection is not common with beef or fish tapeworms, but
can occur with the pork tapeworm ï¿½ called cysticercosis ï¿½ and can also
occur with dog and sheep tapeworms ï¿½ called echinococcosis.
Ingestion of larvae cysts in meat or muscle tissue
Tapeworm infection can also be caused by eating raw or undercooked meat
from an animal or a fish that has the larval form of the tapeworm cysts
in its muscle tissue. Once ingested, the larvae then develop into adult
tapeworms in the intestines. Adult tapeworms can measure up to 50 feet
(15 m) long and can survive as long as 20 years. Some tapeworms attach
themselves to the walls of the intestine, where they cause irritation
or mild inflammation, while others may pass through to the stool and
exit the body. Unlike other tapeworms, the dwarf tapeworm can complete
its entire life cycle ï¿½ egg to larva to adult tapeworm ï¿½ in one host.
This is the most common tapeworm infection in the world and can be
transmitted between humans. Even while being treated for certain
tapeworm infections, reinfection can result from ingesting tapeworm
eggs shed by the adult worm into the stool, as a result of insufficient
personal hygiene.For more information view the source:Wikipedia
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