• 16Aug

    How to get rid of tapeworms in humans?

    Tapeworm infection in humans is caused by many species. These include Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm), Taenia solium (pork tapeworm), and Taenia asiatica (Asian tapeworm). Human infection occurs by eating raw or undercooked beef (T saginata) and pork (T solium, T asiatica). After consumption of such food, these worms multiply and mature in the intestine where they lead to gastro-intestinal symptoms. Many of the patients may remain asymptomatic. These worms grow into metres of length and shed eggs in stools. 

    Symptoms of tapeworm infection

    Due to their largest size, T saginata causes maximum symptoms in comparison to other tapeworms. The common symptoms include discomfort in abdomen, nausea, abdominal bloating with gas, diarrhea and cramp like pain. Some patients pass segments of tapeworm in stools. These symptoms result in malnutrition, anaemia and poor general health. In case of children, the overall growth is affected. Hence it is essential to get rid of these worms.

    Treatment of tapeworm infection

    Medical management

    1. Praziquantel: Praziquantel is commonly used for treatment of this condition. It is given as a single dose of 5 to 10 mg/kg orally in adults and children. In patients with neurocysticercosis, where the cysts are present in brain, this drug should be carefully used as it may result in seizure. This is due to the reason that death of cyst results in inflammation around it. During pregnancy, this requires to be given with caution. WHO recommends the use of this drug during pregnancy especially during mass prevention. This drug is also excreted in breast milk in low concentration. As per WHO guidelines, it can be taken during lactation. It is recommended that in individual setting, a physician should be consulted before this drug is taken during pregnancy or lactation.

    tapeworms2. Niclosamide: The other alternative drug is Niclosamide. It is given orally as a single dose. In adults the dose is 2 grams while in children it is given at a dose of 50 mg/kg. For this drug the precautions during pregnancy or lactation are to be taken as for the above praziquantel.

    3. Completion of treatment: After treatment, stools should be examined after one and three months for tapeworm eggs to ensure completion of treatment.

    Prevention of tapeworm infection

    There are many steps that can be taken to prevent tapeworm infection in human beings.

    1. Safe cooking practice: It is recommended to cook meat to safe temperature for adequate duration. This destroys tapeworm eggs and segments of tapeworm. For large cookhouses, a food thermometer should be used to measure the temperature of cooked meat. There are standard recommendations for cooking meat as given below.

    a. Whole cuts of meat: Cook till the temperature inside the meat is at least 145°F as measured by food thermometer. Allow this temperature for three minutes before consumption.

    b. For ground meat: Cook till 160°F temperature is achieved when consumption is allowed.

    2. Hand washing: Washing of hands with soap and water is recommended before and after using a toilet. Follow the same practice before preparing or eating food.

    3. Avoid eating raw meat and fish.

    4. Storage of meat: Freeze meat to -4°F for at least 24 hours to destroy tapeworm eggs.

    5. Kitchen hygiene: During travel to undeveloped countries, cook food in chemically treated or boiled water. Wash all fruits and vegetables with clean water. Maintain good kitchen hygiene and ensure segregation of raw meat and other foods.

     6. Sanitation: Proper disposal of faeces is important to prevent transmission of eggs with contaminated water.

    7. Pet care: Ensure that pet animals like dogs are treated for tapeworms. Take consult with a veterinary doctor. Also ensure that dog gets to eat cooked meat.

    Tapeworm infection affects children and adults. Though usually low grade, it affects health and growth of children. It is also an indicator of poor hygiene. All precautions as described above should be taken. A voluntary and persistent effort is required to eliminate tapeworms in a family.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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