What is Taeniasis?

Taeniasis is a type of infectious disease caused by parasites, especially the intestinal tapeworms belonging to the genus Taenia. The two most widely spread species of parasites are the pork tapeworm (Taenia solium) and the beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata). These parasitic worms are also found in contaminated food and water.

Causes of Taeniasis

Taeniasis is an intestinal infection caused by tapeworms. They are parasitic and live in the small intestine of the human body. They reproduce by laying eggs and multiply, eventually causing harm to the host. The incubation periods vary between 8 and 15 weeks to develop.

People contract it by consuming undercooked pork and beef. The contaminated food might contain the larva or eggs of the tapeworm that might develop in the intestines when consumed. Poor hygiene is also the cause of the spread of this disease.

According to a survey, more than 50 to 60 million people are affected by this infectious diseases worldwide and are more commonly seen in rural areas, developing countries and in places which are highly populated with pigs, as they are the carrier of this infectious disease. It is more likely to develop in people who have weakened immune systems and other diseases including AIDS and diabetes.

Symptoms of Taeniasis

The infection takes about 8 to 14 weeks to develop. The symptoms may vary from person to person. Some show very mild symptoms, such as:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Weight loss
  • Stomach upset
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • Digestive problems

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In rare cases, the symptoms may become worse and result in:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Appendicitis
  • Pernicious Anaemia
  • Cysticercosis in Muscles
  • Blockage of the intestine
  • Irritation in the perianal area

Diagnosis of Taeniasis

The diagnosis of Taeniasis includes a general physical examination, complete blood count, urine test, and stool tests to check the presence of the eggs or worm segments.

Further Reading: Types of Blood cells

Treatment of Taeniasis

The treatment of this disease may include long courses with prescribed medications such as- Niclosamide, and praziquantel to destroy both the parasitic worm and their eggs.

Prevention and Safety measures.

The most effective way to prevent taeniasis are:

  • Maintain good sanitation
  • Avoid contact with the pigs
  • Have clean and cooked food
  • Cooking meat at a temperature higher than 140ºF
  • Drink clean, filtered and boiled water
  • Maintain cleanliness and proper hand hygiene

In the United States, there is a law to inspect meat and animals regularly. This helps in reducing the chances of people contracting the infection.

Risk Factors Involved

This infection is more prominent in areas where a lot of pork and beef is consumed and the areas with poor sanitation facilities.

People with a weak immune system are more prone to this disease.

The areas of Eastern Europe and Russia, South Korea, Indonesia, China, East Africa and Latin America.

People travelling to areas where taeniasis is spread widely are more at risk of contracting the disease.

Also read: Health and Hygiene

To explore more about Taeniasis disease or discover other infectious diseases, their symptoms, causes, treatments, and preventive measures by registering at BYJU’S Biology.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is taeniasis?

Taeniasis is a parasitic infection caused by the tapeworm Taenia saginata in humansIt can infect humans through raw or undercooked beef.

How is Taenia saginata treated?

The pathogen is treated by a single dose of praziquantel 5 or 10 mg/kg. A single dose of 2g-niclosamide tablets can also be given to treat the pathogen.

How does a tapeworm obtain nutrients?

A tapeworm has no digested tract so it feeds on the food already digested by the organism. They absorb nutrients directly across their skin. This is what they do as parasites inside our body.

How can taeniasis be prevented?

Taeniasis can be prevented by maintaining proper hygiene. The hands should be washed properly before eating food. Also, the vegetables should be washed and peeled properly before cooking.

Are tapeworms fatal?

Yes, tapeworms can be fatal if consumed through infected meat.

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