Tapeworms, or cestodes, are intestinal parasites; they are worms that are flattened like a tape measure. A tapeworm cannot live freely on its own – it survives within the gut (intestine) of an animal, including a human.
A parasite is an animal or plant that lives in a host; another animal or plant.
Tapeworm eggs generally enter the human host from animals through ingested food, especially raw or undercooked meat. Humans can also become infected if there is contact with animal stools or contaminated water. When an infection is passed from an animal to a human it is called zoonosis.
Common symptoms of tapeworm infection
Symptoms of infection with tapeworm usually involve the digestive system and include:
1. Abdominal pain
2. Loss of appetite
4. Nausea, which may be described as feelings of wooziness, queasiness, retching, sea-sickness, car-sickness, or an upset stomach
5. Passing of tapeworm segments in the stool or by vomiting
6. Presence of tapeworm segments in the stool
7. Unexplained weight loss
8. Weakness (loss of strength)
Invasive infection signs and symptoms
If the tapeworm larvae made their way out of the intestines and formed cysts in tissues elsewhere in the body, there is a risk of tissue damage. The following symptoms may be possible:
2. Abdominal pain or discomfort
4. Cystic lumps or masses
5. An allergic reaction to larvae
6. Bacterial infections
7. Seizures and other neurological symptoms
9. Intracranial pressure (pressure inside the skull.
10. Signs and symptoms will depend on what type of tapeworm it is, how severe the infection is, and which tissues (which part of the body) are infected.