Tapeworm infection remains an issue of concern in developing countries. It is important to note that tapeworms are a form of parasitic flatworm and some species can infect the digestive tract of humans. The cases of infection are likely to occur in areas with poor sanitation facilities and those who are in close contact with animals.
Tapeworm infection among humans is often due to consumption of raw or poorly cooked meat, fish or pork from an infected source.
What are the indications?
In most instances, a tapeworm infection will not trigger any symptoms or only a few in the digestive tract. If any symptoms are present, it includes:
- Stomach pain
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Passing out tapeworm segments in the stool
If infected by the pork tapeworm eggs, other body parts are infected once the larvae move out of the digestive tract and form cysts. This results to lumps under the skin or tissues or even the organs.
In case one is infected by the fish tapeworm, it can lead to lack of vitamin B12 which leads to anemia.
Management of tapeworm infection
If an individual has tapeworm infection, the treatment involves a medication that immobilizes the worms. Once the worms are unable to adhere onto the intestinal lining, they are passed out of the body during bowel movements.
An antiparasitic drug that has been the preferred choice in treating a tapeworm infection is praziquantel. A single dose is administered. In case the infection is due to the Dwarf tapeworm, an antiprotozoal drug might be given.
In case of complications from pork tapeworm infection that formed cysts, the treatment is based on the site of the cysts. Antiparasitic drugs might be given but it might be needed to utilize additional drugs or treatment options to manage the infection and associated issues in other body parts.