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TAPEWORMS IN HUMANS: SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT, & PREVENTION

Tapeworms are referred to the intestinal parasites which are shaped in the form of a tape which normally enters the body of the humans through food and water. Most of the individuals who are infected by tapeworm remain unaware as they experience symptoms which are normal in nature with other diseases. The tapeworm infection can be diagnosed with the help of blood tests where it is performed with the aim to find out the antibodies which caused the infection. The analysis of the stool is also a potential diagnostic way to identify tapeworm infection in humans.

The complications that may arise due to tapeworm infection in humans include cysticercoids. This happens when a human intakes a pork that is infected by tapeworm larvae or eggs. The larvae remain in the intestine of the human and infect its organs and tissues in the body which results to create lesions or cysts.  The tapeworm from the pork can also infect the nervous system of the humans and even affects the brain. This causes the individual to face a headache, seizures, vision problems, meningitis, and others. In the worst cases, the situation may be fatal for the individuals. The Echinococcus tapeworm enters the body where it larvae leave the intestine and guts and infects the lever in humans. This infection causes the development of large cysts that may provide pressure on the blood vessels creating issues in proper blood circulation.

The humans get infected by tapeworms by ingestion of eggs which enters the body through contaminated water, intake of contaminated food or during interaction with animals. The eggs of the tapeworm hatches and the larvae make way inside the gut of the humans where they spread an infection to different parts of the body. The intake of raw or uncooked fish or meat is also seen to be responsible for tapeworm infection in humans as the larvae cysts reach the intestine of the humans where they mature into adult tapeworms and infects the body. The adult tapeworm is able to live as long as 20 years and can length up to 50 feet. They attach themselves to the intestine walls and pass outside through the stool. The fleas or few kinds of beetles are seen to act as intermediate hosts for the tapeworm to help them transit from egg to adult stage. The fleas infect the food and the tapeworm is transmitted to the food which when taken in by the individual results them to get infected.

Symptoms:

The symptom that may appear for tapeworm infection is dependent on the type of tapeworm that has affected the individual. The common symptoms include abdominal pain, vomiting, general weakness, weight loss, diarrhoea, altered appetite, dizziness, the presence of larvae, eggs or segments of the tapeworm in stools and others.

Treatment:

The treatment of tapeworm larvae infection is much complicated in comparison to the treatment of adult tapeworm infection. This is because the adult tapeworm usually remains in the intestine whereas the larvae are seen to infect other parts of the body. The doctors usually prescribe oral medication for tapeworm infection in humans. This is because the drugs do not let the digestive system of the humans to absorb it and either they attack or dissolve the tapeworm to kill it. The doctor is probably to advise the individuals to take a laxative in order to help the tapeworm come out of the body through the stool. The individual can be given anti-emetic medication so that they do not vomit. This is because vomiting may make the person get reinfected by swallowing of the larvae of the tapeworm. The patient’s stool is going to be checked by the doctor several times within 1-3 months after the medication course.

In case the medications are taken according to the process it is 95% effective in resolving the infection. The infection by the tapeworm in the case is made outside of the intestine then the individual requirements to take anti-inflammatory medications to lower swelling that later develops into cysts. In case the patient is infected by life-threatening cysts in the vital organs then they require undergoing cyst surgery. This is because removal of cysts causes a destruction of the larvae of the tapeworm which helps the individuals to become normal.

Prevention:

In order to prevent tapeworm infection following activities are to be followed:

  • The animal and human wastes are to be properly treated and disposed of so that health hazards like tapeworms are removed. The humans require making sure that no wastes or excreta reaches the freshwater lakes where farming of fish is done. The humans require making sure that the animals are properly taken care so that they do not come into contact with eggs of the tapeworm.
  • The meat to be consumed by the individuals requires to be effectively inspected to make sure if it is fit for intake so that no tapeworm infection may be caused by consuming it. The infection from the meat can also be prevented by the humans by properly cooking it so that it is overall cooked and none of the parts is left raw. It can be ensured by cooking the food at the minimum of 66ºC thoroughly to kill any larvae or eggs of the tapeworm. The humans require avoiding eating raw meat or fish in order to prevent themselves from tapeworm infection. The freezing of meat or fish below -10ºC for the minimum of 48 hours also helps to kill eggs and larvae of the tapeworm making it safe for consumption. The experts inform that eating sushi is safe if it has been frozen before intake.
  • The humans require taking care of personal hygiene to prevent tapeworm infection. The individuals require following certain vital steps to make sure the food they eat is free from tapeworm or any other infectious parasites. They need to thoroughly wash their hands before and after preparation of the food. They also need to wash their hands after using the toilet and even before eating.
  • The humans require making sure that they avoid contact with animals who are found to be infected by tapeworm and keep the children away from such animals. Further, they need to make sure they wash their hands properly with soap and water after coming in contact with infected animals so as to prevent the spreading of the infection. The animals are to be given medication and de-wormed regularly so as to prevent tapeworm infection.
  • There are certain parts in specific countries where sanitation practices are poorly maintained resulting in higher risk among individuals to be infected by the tapeworm. Thus, such areas and parts are to be avoided by individuals in order to protect themselves from getting infected by the tapeworm.