noun, plural: taeniases
Taeniasis refers to the infestation with parasitic tapeworms of the genus Taenia. Taenia is a genus of the class Cestoda. It is a type of helminth (parasitic flatworms). There are about a hundred of species known to belong to this group. Some of the medically-important species are Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm), Taenia solium (pork tapeworm), and Taenia asiatica (Asian taenia). All of them are similar in form, i.e. having a ribbon-like appearance. Their form is due to the long and slender and is called strobila. The strobila is comprised of a series of proglottids. The proglottid is produced from the neck connecting the head (called scolex) and the strobila. The distal proglottids are mature in a way that they contain the eggs. The Taenia worm is hermaphrodite. It can reproduce through self-fertilization. The scolex or the head has bothria that act as suction cups. The worm uses to attach to the intestinal wall.
The presence of Taenia worms in the gut usually does not lead to a disease. Taeniasis is often asymptomatic. Nevertheless, the condition may cause weight loss, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, constipation, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, indigestion, and dizziness. A related condition is cysticercosis. It is a condition in which the host harbours the larval stage (cysticercus) of Taenia. Taenia solium, in particular, causes cysticercus in humans when the larva encysts in tissues rather than move to the gut. This is rather dangerous because the larva may encyst in the brain and cause neurocysticercosis.
Word origin: Greek tainía (“ribbon, tapeworm”) + -iasis (pathological)