A comprehensive overview of tapeworm covering subjects like cure, treatment, symptoms, diagnostics, research, causes and pictures


     The parasitosis is caused by Taenia saginata (tapeworms) infection of the human body.


     This disease occurs after the consumption of meat infected with the parasite, meat that was not cooked well enough. The incriminated meat is the one of beef and pork.

     The meat is infected with the parasite in the larvae stage (immature form of tapeworm is cysticercosis). Cysticercosis is located especially in striated muscle tissue, heart, and also in the central nervous system and eye, where they can complete the maturation. In case you accidentally eat infected meat, the cysticercosis being able to give birth to future tapeworms. Generally, in the host organism survives just one tapeworm. It can withstand even 20 years and can reach 3-5 feet in length.

     Tapeworm body consists of several segments called proglottids, each capable of producing eggs. Tapeworms have around 1000 proglottids which are eliminated depending how they loose from the rest of the body (one proglottids or more once). Proglottids elimination of Taenia solium is made only with the feces, while proglottids of Taenia saginata are eliminated independent (actually a very important thing in differential diagnosis). The gravid segment of tapeworm may contain between 60-70000 fertile eggs (each of them having an embryo inside which will become cysticercosis, and this in turn will become an adult tapeworm).

     In the absence of proper hygiene, infected adults and children can auto infect (thus perpetuate their disease) if they do not wash their hands after going to toilet. They are also a danger to others, not only for themselves because they are a permanent source of infection. They can touch the others food with dirty hands and so healthy people become infected.

Signs and symptoms of tapeworms

     This infection cause signs and symptoms of moderate-intensity, nonspecific and in some cases (rarely, but possible) the patient can be completely asymptomatic.

     The patient often accused:

  • Diffuse abdominal pain (in the case of Tenia saginata are intense and are located mainly in the epigastrium), nausea, vomiting, change in bowel habits
  • Change of appetite accompanied by unexplained weight loss
  • Constant head pain.

Tapeworm Investigations

     The body's response to the existence of the parasite is not very aggressive and is not specific. Sanguine determinations can highlight a moderate eosinophilia (but it appears within all parasitosis) and immunological determination identify a fraction of the high Ig (though this change is unsteady). To diagnose the disease is necessary to achieve an exam that follows highlight the proglottids segments in the stoolr. Only in rare situations occur the free eggs in the stool (removed from the pregnant proglottids).

     If the patient is diagnosed with this parasite the entire family is indicated for investigation to detect other cases.

Tapeworm complications

     In severe cases, when the tapeworm is very long (especially in cases of Taenia saginata) it may occur intestinal obstruction (due to the rapping of the parasite). In case of Taenia solium larvae migrate to the brain and can cause seizures or other neurological problems: increased intracranial pressure, hydrocephalus, impaired consciousness. In this case the condition is called neurocysticercosis. In the general damage case is the cysticercosis: in this case may appear and heart problems (valvular) and eyes problems (even blindness).

     Tapeworm complications require treatment with corticosteroids (prednisone or dexamethasone) and anticonvulsants to reduce inflammation and neurological symptoms. Taenia saginata-specific complications are represented by appendicitis and pancreatic necrosis.


     The infection disappears in the presence of a correct treatment performed. But if the scolex is not eliminated, the tapeworm recovers within three months.

Consult specialist

     Patients are advised to consult a specialist as soon as they lost weight lately, if they have headaches and they have seen in the stool the presence of a worm (or an element that can resemble a worm). The patients may feel a very strange sensation in the perianal and anal area (because the parasite can be eliminated at any time) so be careful to check and underwear, because you can find a worm there too.

Tapeworm prevention

     Preventive measures include:

  • Veterinary control of meat of cattle and pork before it is consumed
  • Thermal proper meat preparation (thorough cooking destroys the parasite)
  • Ensuring compliance with basic hygiene (washing hands after using the toilet).

     Tapeworms are also found in fish too.


     If treatment is administered promptly and fairly the patient may heal without sequelae. If the first therapy attempt fails, it is tried again, with the same drugs administered in the same dose. The patient must be reviewed to 7 days from the first treatment to determine whether he has healed or not - this is estimated by conducting a new coprological examination.

Complications from the tapeworm fish

     The most common complication causes anemia (by the abnormally increased consumption of vitamin B12) or intestinal obstruction (through its very large sizes, far exceeding the small intestine in length).


     Experts recommend that patients properly cook the freshwater fish, and avoid foods that contain raw meat and exotic specialties and very important, to have a proper personal hygiene, to wash their hands after using the toilet, especially public toilets and to be attentive to preventive measures they take if they are going to endemic regions.

Consult specialist

     Patients are advised to submit as soon as possible to the doctor if they develop signs and symptoms of anemia, if they lost weight despite a preserved appetite and especially if they have noticed for proglottids or worm fragments in stool.

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