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Also called "tapeworm" (sometimes tænia), the tapeworm is a parasite that affects the digestive system and can be ingested by eating certain foods. It is a long hermaphrodite worm, flat and segmented that can reach 10 meters in length. The tapeworm clings to cupping inside the small intestine and grows thanks to the food that is consumed. If left untreated, the worm can reach 30 years!
There are 3 kinds of tapeworm:
  • The tapeworm saginata, which is caught while eating beef
  • The tapeworm solium, which is caught while eating pork
  • The fish tapeworm, which is found as its name suggests in the flesh of some freshwater fish: it is, however, much rarer than those present in meat

Causes of the worm

The eggs of the worms are ingested by the animals (oxen and pigs), then develop into larvae in their muscles. When we eat this meat, live larvae colonize our own intestines. In the case of fish, there is no need for Intermediate: consuming fish that contains unhatched eggs of tapeworm can contaminate us.
Cooking exterminates tapeworm larvae, but eating uncooked or undercooked meat increases the risk of catching the tapeworm.

Who is touched by the worm? What are the risk factors?

Anyone who consumes poorly cooked contaminated meat can suffer from tapeworm. The disease is however more common:
  • In areas with weak veterinary hygiene measures
  • When eating raw meats frequently


The solitary worm is not contagious.

The main symptoms of the tapeworm

During the first months after contamination er lonely , there are few symptoms. After about 3 months, it can reproduce inside our gut: its eggs are expelled into the stool in rings that look like small flat and white noodles. This is often the first sign that suggests the presence of the parasite.
The physical signs of the tapeworm are:
  • Low abdominal cramps
  • Appetite disorders: we are less hungry, or more hungry: it depends on the cases
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss, in some cases
  • Fatigue and generalized weakness: the worm "gobbles up" all the nutrients necessary for our good health
  • Headache
  • dizziness

Diagnosis of the worm

It is only by noting the presence of solitary worm rings in the stool (sometimes underwear, sheets) that a 100% safe diagnosis can be made. Indeed, there is no other external sign of contamination and the symptoms are all unclear: they can be related to a large number of diseases.

Possible risks of complications

In some very rare cases, the parasite moves to the brain and manifests itself in ocular and neurological disorders. The infection is called cysticercosis and can cause terrible headaches and epileptic seizures.
It can also happen that the tapeworm causes an appendicitis crisis or intestinal obstruction.

Treatment of the worm

Once diagnosed, the tapeworm is easily removed by deworming. The drug kills the parasite in a few days, and the parasite is then eliminated by the stool.

Prevention of the tapeworm

The best way to avoid the worm is to cook the meat and fish you eat very well.


The information contained in this sheet is for informational purposes only and will allow you to ask informed questions to your doctor. In no case can they replace the opinion of a health professional. Our team of writers and experts makes every effort to provide you with quality information. However, Canal Vie can not be held responsible if the contents of a file prove incomplete or obsolete. We remind you that it is strongly recommended to consult a doctor if you think you are suffering from a health problem.
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