Tapeworm

Mother checking temperature of daughter (21-24 months)

Individuals contract the tapeworm virus when they ingest solid foods or liquids that contain tapeworm eggs. Live tapeworm is referred to as larvae and is commonly consumed by eating food that has been undercooked. Certain tapeworm eggs can even make their way outside of the intestines after they have been consumed and form cysts on your organs and tissue. If you have consumed live tapeworm it will stay in your intestines and grow into adult tapeworms. This can cause a big problem since adult tapeworms can live in your intestines for twenty years. The effects of tapeworm infections can vary. The symptoms can be very mild or very serious.

Causes

Tapeworm infections are caused after an individual consumes tapeworms or tapeworm eggs. This is usually done when an individual consumes food that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected animal without their knowledge. For example, since manure is used in many gardens, a pig that is infected with tapeworm may have contaminated the soil which is used to grow various vegetables. After an individual consumes a piece of food from this garden, they will have contracted the tapeworm infection. When a tapeworm egg is consumed, it will usually hatch and work its way out of the intestines. This will cause the individual to develop cysts which can be very serious since they can potentially form on your lungs or even your brain.

The virus is not only commonly contracted by consuming vegetables that have grown in a contaminated garden.  If an individual consumes meat from an infected animal, they will also contract the virus since the tapeworm will live in the animal’s muscle tissue.

Signs

There are many cases of the tapeworm virus where the individual is unaware that they carry the virus since they do not display any symptoms that are out of the ordinary. There are different types of tapeworms. Therefore, your symptoms will depend largely on the type of tapeworm you have ingested as well as its location in your body. If you have tapeworm living in your intestines, some of the most common symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, weakness and a loss of appetite. These symptoms are very similar to those experienced when contracting the flu virus, therefore many individuals may overlook them.

If you have swallowed tapeworm eggs that have since moved out of your intestines, your symptoms are likely to be more serious. However, once again, this will depend on the specific location they have moved to outside of the intestines. Individuals may experience cysts on their body as well as high fevers and bacterial infections. If the live tapeworm has moved in close proximity to the brain, the individual’s condition may be much more serious as they become more susceptible to seizures.

Cures

Different treatment options will depend on the severity of the symptoms experienced by the infected individual. Some individuals may never require treatment since their symptoms are not serious enough for them to realize that they have a tapeworm infection. However, if the symptoms experienced by an infected individual are serious enough for medical attention, they will likely be prescribed different medications that are poisonous to the living tapeworm. There are three main types of prescription drugs used for this purpose. The type that the doctor prescribes will depend largely on the species of tapeworm that is living in the patient’s body. The three most common drugs used are Praziquantel, Albendazole and Nitazoxanide.

It is important to keep in mind that the medications available are only effective at killing adult tapeworms and not any eggs that may have been ingested. Therefore, the patient should have regular checkups immediately after starting the medication.