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What is the tapeworm and how is it transmitted?


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What is the tapeworm? Let’s find out how transmission occurs, what are the characteristic symptoms and possible treatments.

When we talk about the tapeworm we generally refer to human parasites, in particular the tapeworm ( Taenia ). The tapeworm is, in fact, one of the most frequent parasites that we find in humans and that can be transmitted through the consumption of raw or undercooked meats. Let’s see how these parasites are transmitted, what symptoms help us identify them and what are the treatments to resolve the infestation.

Lone worm: how to take it

The tapeworm is part of the intestinal parasites , it is a flat worm of which different species are recognized, the most common in humans are Taenia solium , saginata and asiatica . Transmission occurs mainly through food and in particular through the consumption of raw or undercooked meat. Depending on the parasite, transmission can occur through beef ( Taenia saginata ) or pork ( Taenia solium ). Other ways in which the parasite may come into contact are by consuming contaminated food or water or by direct contact with people with the infestation.

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Let’s summarize the life cycle of this parasite in a simple way:

  • the eggs are released through the feces and resist in the environment, adhering to the grass;
  • a bovine or a pig (intermediate host) ingests them and the eggs develop into larvae (called cysticerci) which nestle in the muscles;
  • human consumption of raw or undercooked meat allows for transmission. The larvae at this point transform into adult worms, having reached their final host.

Tapeworm: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Remedies

Symptoms appear only after a few months and can include increased appetite, abdominal pain, but also constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and weight loss. To correctly diagnose the presence of the parasite, an examination of the feces is used, the search for the solitary worm in the feces foresees in fact to find the presence of eggs or even segments of the parasite (the proglottids ). After diagnosis, treatment with specific drugs is used, including niclosamide and mebendazole.


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