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Alternative Names Return to topTeniasis; Pork tapeworm; Beef tapeworm; Tapeworm; Taenia saginata; Taenia solium
Definition Return to top
Taeniasis is a tapeworm infection.
Causes Return to top
Tapeworm infection is acquired by eating raw or undercooked meat of infected animals. Beef generally carry Taenia saginata (T. saginata) while pigs carry Taenia solium (T. solium). In the human intestine, the larvae from the infected meat develop into the adult tapeworm -- which can grow to longer than 12 feet.
Tapeworms are segmented, with each segment capable of producing eggs. Eggs are dispersed individually or in groups and can pass out with the stool or through the anus.
Adults and children withT. solium pork tapeworm can, if appropriate hygiene is lacking, become self-infected by ingesting eggs from tapeworm that are picked up on their hands while wiping or scratching the anus.
Additionally, these individuals can expose other individuals to T. solium eggs, usually through food handling.
Symptoms Return to top
Tapeworm infestation does not usually cause any symptoms. Infection is generally recognized when the infected person passes segments of proglottids in the stool, especially if the segment is moving.
Exams and Tests Return to top
The stool will be examined for eggs of T. solium or T. saginata.
Segments of worm may be seen in stool.
Treatment Return to top
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.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
With treatment, the tapeworm infection goes away.
Possible Complications Return to top
Rarely, worms may cause obstruction of the intestine.
If T. solium larvae migrate to the brain, they can cause seizures and other neurological problems. This condition is called cysticercosis.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if you pass something in your stool that looks like a white worm.
Prevention Return to top
In the U.S., laws governing feeding practices and inspection of domestic food animals have largely eliminated the problem of tapeworm. Adequate cooking of meat destroys the tapeworm larvae and will prevent infection by tapeworm. Good hygiene and hand washing after using the toilet will prevent self-infection in a person already infected with tapeworms.Update Date: 8/16/2007 Updated by: Arnold L. Lentnek, MD, Division of Infectious Disease, Kennestone Hospital, Marietta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.