Tapeworm infection is caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae. If you ingest certain tapeworm eggs, they can migrate outside your intestines and form larval cysts in body tissues and organs (invasive infection). If you ingest tapeworm larvae, however, they develop into adult tapeworms in your intestines (intestinal infection).
An adult tapeworm consists of a head, neck and chain of segments called proglottids. When you have an intestinal tapeworm infection, the tapeworm head adheres to the intestinal wall, and the proglottids grow and produce eggs. Adult tapeworms can live for up to 30 years in a host. Intestinal tapeworm infections are usually mild, but invasive larval infections can cause serious complications.
Dec. 02, 2014
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
- Harhay MO, et al. Epidemiology and control of human gastrointestinal parasites in children. Expert Review of Anti-infective Therapy. 2010;8:219.
- Leder K, et al. Intestinal tapeworms. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
- White AC Jr. Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of cysticercosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
- White AC Jr. Treatment of cysticercosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 21, 2014.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.