Tapeworms are harmful parasites that affect the digestive systems and the intestines where they consume raw meat, fish and unsanitary water. Since tapeworms are parasites, they acquire their nutrition from simply feeding on their host.
Tapeworms are often ingested along with food with cysts that hatch and through water containing the eggs of tapeworms. Cysts hatch to produce adult tapeworms whereas; eggs hatch and produce larvae—which move to the cyst phase and then the adult phase.
Tapeworms can develop into adults varying from 15 to 30 feet lengthwise. They are flat worms that reside in the intestinal tract of humans.
Tapeworms are often diagnosed through various tests, such as a stool sample to check for eggs or any other form of tapeworm segments. Sometimes cysts may also be present in the brain, therefore, doctors may choose to perform an MRI or CT scan. Additionally blood tests may also prove the presence of infections through the availability of antibodies that combat it.
This topic is not covered in any St Mark James first aid and CPR course and should only be diagnosed by a medical practitioner. If you believe you have tapeworms and / or you are suffering from the following symptoms contact your doctor.
- Upper abdominal pain or discomfort
- Unusual appetite—may be high or low
- Unexplained weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Anemia—rare—caused only form the consumption of contaminated fish
If the cysts have affected the meninges of the brain, the following problems may occur:
- Headaches due to inflammation
- Other neurological symptoms
A disease called cysticercosis is caused due to pork tapeworms. The disease is often caused when the larvae break though the intestinal walls and move into the bloodstream, tissues, internal organs, muscles and skin—where they form cysts which hatch to develop adult tapeworms.
Cysts that violate the skin tissue may be apparent to you. If you suspect that you have been infected, consult your doctor immediately to prevent any further damages, especially affecting the vital organs such as the heart and brain.
Treatment involves taking a single anti-inflammatory or anti-parasitic drug.
Cysticercosis is usually not treated unless the brain is affected. Anti-parasitic drugs with corticosteroid are given to relive inflammation.
- Strict laws are based in order to prevent the consumption of meat that is not bred to be eaten.
- Cysts are often visible in raw meat; therefore, make sure you check the meat before you consume it.
- Freeze your meat before cooking it.
- Make sure you properly cook your meat before you eat it—for at least 135 F.
- Drying, smoking or slightly heating the meat will not kill the cysts.
- Do NOT consume freshwater fish raw.
- While swimming in fresh water, make sure you do not drink it as it may contain numerous parasites, cysts and eggs.