Tapeworms are not just a parasite infection concern for your pet dog or cat. Taeniasis, meaning tape worm infection, can occur in humans as well. They are zoonotic infections with the most common cause for transmission being the consumption of undercooked fish, pork and beef.
Taenasis can cause a health problem in two very different ways, one by larvae and the other by eggs. If you ingest tapeworm larvae, then it can develop into an adult within your intestinal tract. Tapeworm intestinal infection is typically accomplished by ingesting larvae cysts that have not been destroyed by heat or prolonged freezing in meat. And your intestines can support a tape worm growth for years without much intestinal parasite notice.
On the other hand, should you ingest tapeworm eggs, they can can cause an invasive infection by migrating out of your intestines, into your bloodstream and form cysts in other organs or tissue, commonly liver and lungs. The route for the ingestion of tape worm eggs is by feces of an animal or human with tapeworm contaminating food or water. Once the eggs are inside your intestine, they develop into larvae and become mobile. And an invasive tapeworm infection can cause some very serious health complications.
Taeniasis intestinal infection usually won’t cause symptoms and you may only realize a worm is living there when a segment of it is present in your stool. When an intestinal infection does cause symptoms, they may include:
Invasive infection by a tape worm larvae causes various symptoms depending on the site of migration and corresponding damage. For instance, a cyst in your lungs may cause a cough, chest pain and hemoptysis. A brain infection by tapeworm larvae can cause seizures, vision changes and other nervous system problems.
Standard tape worm treatment for an intestinal infection is taking medication that is toxic to an adult tapeworm. Treating an invasive infection is a bit more difficult and may involve:
- anthelmintic drugs to shrink your cysts
- surgical removal of liver, lung or eye cysts
- anti-epileptic medication to combat seizures
- anti-inflammatory to reduce any associative inflammation
One key method for avoiding taeniasis treatment is thoroughly cook your meat to kill one of the potential routes for ingesting tapeworm eggs and larvae.