These worms have flat ribbon-like bodies. They are 2 to 7 meters long and have four suckers to stabilize themselves as well as hooks in their scolex. Adults are hermaphroditic with both male and female reproductive organs.
Symptoms are mild. This parasite can be identified with a stool sample and microscopy or with a coproantigen enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that identifies molecules in stool that are specific to Taenia solium.
- Eggs in human feces are passed into the environment (can survive for months in the environment)
- Pigs ingest vegetation contaminated with the eggs
- The oncospheres (larvae) hatch in the pig’s intestines and spread to the muscles where they develop further into cysticerci. They can survive for several years within the pig
- Humans ingest raw or undercooked pig meat and become infected
- The cyticerus develops for around 2 months in the human intestine into an adult and then can survive for years
- They become attached to the small intestine and reside here
*final length = 2 to 7 meters
*humans are the only definitive hosts
- Definitive Host: Humans
- Intermediate Hosts: Pigs
- There are drugs available to treat the tapeworm in humans, but they are diffficult to find
- Some pigs are vaccinated in attempt to minimize transmission
- Transmitted mostly in rural areas where pigs have access to untreated human sewage and where infected pork is consumed by people
Distribution is worldwide but is more common in poorer communities where people live in close contact with pigs and eat undercooked meat.