What does fact checked mean?
At Healthfully, we strive to deliver objective content that is accurate and up-to-date. Our team periodically reviews articles in order to ensure content quality. The sources cited below consist of evidence from peer-reviewed journals, prominent medical organizations, academic associations, and government data.
The information contained on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for the advice of a professional health care provider. Please check with the appropriate physician regarding health questions and concerns. Although we strive to deliver accurate and up-to-date information, no guarantee to that effect is made.
Most people who are infected with tapeworm have few, if any, symptoms. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and a tapeworm infestation will not just go away. It will need medical care, especially if the larvae have migrated from the intestinal track and into other parts of the body.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Cycle of Infection
Tapeworm eggs are excreted by the host, human or animal, into the soil. The eggs are then ingested by not washing your hands before eating or preparing food. You can also become infected by eating raw or undercooked meats or drinking water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae. If the eggs are ingested, they may develop into larvae, migrate from the intestinal track and invade other body organs or muscle, causing serious medical complications. If larvae are ingested, they usually remain in the intestine, causing few, if any, symptoms. The tapeworms grow, mature, and produce eggs that are then excreted from the body in the stool, and the cycle begins again.
- Tapeworm eggs are excreted by the host, human or animal, into the soil.
- If the eggs are ingested, they may develop into larvae, migrate from the intestinal track and invade other body organs or muscle, causing serious medical complications.
Risk Factors and Causes
Symptoms of Roundworms in People
Most tapeworm infections in humans are caused by poor hygiene, improper disposal of human or animal feces and eating undercooked freshwater fish, beef or pork. Your mother was correct to constantly remind you to wash your hands before eating, after using the restroom, and after playing in the dirt. The dwarf tapeworm is the most common tapeworm infection in the world and can complete its entire life cycle in one host. You can also re-infect yourself by ingesting tapeworm eggs excreted in your feces after using the toilet and not properly washing your hands. Dwarf tapeworm infection can also be spread by human-to-human contact from getting eggs on your hands from contaminated stool and then touching food, another person's hands or other objects. Other risk factors include exposure to livestock, frequent travel to developing countries and drinking contaminated water.
- Most tapeworm infections in humans are caused by poor hygiene, improper disposal of human or animal feces and eating undercooked freshwater fish, beef or pork.
- Dwarf tapeworm infection can also be spread by human-to-human contact from getting eggs on your hands from contaminated stool and then touching food, another person's hands or other objects.
Tapeworms that remain in the intestine attach to the intestinal wall and can cause irritation and mild inflammation. Intestinal infestation symptoms include:
- seeing tapeworm segments or live worms in your stool
- loss of appetite
- abdominal pain
- weight loss from inadequate absorption of nutrients from food
Symptoms of larvae that have migrated out of the intestinal track and into other body tissue or organs may include
- neurological symptoms
- allergic reaction to larvae
- cystic masses or lumps
Tapeworms can grow up to 50 feet in length and live up to 20 years.
Symptoms of Intestinal Worms
To prevent infection, cook all meats to an internal temperature of at least 160 F; cook fish until it is flaky, not rubbery; always thoroughly wash your hands before preparing any food; and eliminate any human or livestock feces properly. Seek medical attention if you have any symptoms.
Symptoms of Roundworms in People
Symptoms of Intestinal Worms
Diseases From Pork That Pass to Humans
Signs of Intestinal Worms in Humans
Over-the-Counter Remedy for Tapeworms in Humans
Roundworm Symptoms in Humans
What Are the Different Types of Roundworms?
Common Human Parasites
Different Types of Worms in Humans
What Are the Symptoms of Worms in the Human Body?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parasites - Cysticercosis. Updated July 31, 2019.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Parasites - Taeniasis. Updated January 10, 2013.
- García HH, Gonzalez AE, Evans CA, Gilman RH; Cysticercosis Working Group in Peru. Taenia solium cysticercosis. Lancet. 2003;362(9383):547-556. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(03)14117-7
- Wakelin D. Helminths: Pathogenesis and Defenses. In: Baron S, editor. Medical Microbiology. 4th edition. Galveston, TX: University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; 1996.
- Bhattacharjee HK, Ramman TR, Agarwal L, Nain M, Thomas S. Isolated cysticercosis of the breast masquerading as a breast tumour: report of a case and review of literature. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2011;105(6):455-461. doi:10.1179/1364859411Y.0000000039
- Nash TE, Garcia HH. Diagnosis and treatment of neurocysticercosis. Nat Rev Neurol. 2011;7(10):584-594. doi:10.1038/nrneurol.2011.135
- Scholz T, Garcia HH, Kuchta R, Wicht B. Update on the human broad tapeworm (genus diphyllobothrium), including clinical relevance. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2009;22(1):146-160. doi:10.1128/CMR.00033-08
- Global Health – Division of Parasitic Diseases. "Diphyllobothrium latum (and other species) FAQs." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Jan 2012.
- Global Health – Division of Parasitic Diseases. "Taeniasis FAQs." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 10 Jan 2013.
- Pearson R. "Taenia Solium (Pork Tapeworm) Infection and Cysticercosis.” Merck Manual Professional Edition. Aug 2016.
- Prescribers’ Digital Reference. "Praziquantel - Drug Summary.” PDR, LLC. 2018
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "Safe Food Handling: What You Need to Know.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 30 Nov 2017.