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Tapeworms Infection – Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

Tapeworm (cestoda) is a class of parasitic flatworm that can infect human’s digestive tracts. It may survive in its human host for more than 20 years and can grow in excess of 20 feet (6.10 m).
Tapeworms are segmented, with each segment capable of producing eggs.

Types and Causes of Tapeworms

Tapeworms are caused by eating undercooked meat or freshwater fish that contain tapeworm cysts. Ingesting faecally contaminated foods and water, by touching your mouth with contaminated fingers, or by ingesting contaminated soil.
– An adult tapeworm consists of a head, neck and chain of segments called proglottids.
– Intestinal tapeworms are those which reach the adult stage in the human intestine.
– Beef tapeworms comes from cows, and can be found wherever there is cattle farming and can grow up to 25 feet in length.
– Pork tapeworm can be caused not only by eating undercooked pork but also get infected by eating or drinking contaminated food and water, as well as by hand-to-mouth contact after touching something that contains the tapeworm cysts. It grows up to 21 inches in length.
– Fish tapeworm infection occurs by eating raw or undercooked freshwater fish, including salmon.
– Rodent tapeworms infects humans through an intermediate carrier, such as fleas, beetles, and cockroach that carry the cysts.
– Dog tapeworm can infect humans, usually children, who accidentally ingest infected flea or louse.
– Dwarf tapeworms affect humans through ingestion of food contaminated with feces. It grows up to 12 inches in length.

Symptoms of Tapeworms

– The symptoms of Intestinal infection include hunger, loss of appetite, nausea, weakness, abdominal pain, fatigue and diarrhea, tiredness.
– The symptoms of Invasive infection(tapeworm larvae have migrated out of your intestines and formed cysts in other tissues) include seizures, fever, jaundice, cystic masses or lumps, allergic reactions to the larvae, bacterial infections and neurological symptoms.

Risk factors, Diagnosis and Treatment of tapeworms Infections

Poor hygiene, exposure to livestock and eating raw or undercooked meats are the risk factors involved in having tapeworms. Tapeworm Infection is diagnosed by blood tests and stool tests.

Treating tapeworm larvae infection is more complicated than treating an adult tapeworm infection.
– Oral medications for treating tapeworms.
– If the infection affects tissues outside the intestine, the patient may have to take a course of anti-inflammatory steroid to reduce swelling caused by the development of cysts.
– If the patient has life-threatening cysts that have developed in vital organs, such as the lungs or liver, surgery may be required.

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