noun, plural: tapeworm infections
Tapeworms are parasitic worms of the class Cestoda. Their life cycle involves two hosts, i.e. intermediate host and definitive host. The juvenile stage of the tapeworm occurs in the tissues or muscles of the intermediate host. Ingestion of raw tissues of the primary host infected with the worm is the way through which the worm infects the definitive host. The worm reaches the digestive tract of the definitive host where it will grow into adult. It possesses bothria on its scolex (head region). The bothria are essential for anchoring the worm to the intestinal wall of the host. It feeds on the nutrients from food digested in the intestine. Its body referred to as strobila is comprised of a series of proglottids making it look like a strip of tape or ribbon (thus, the name tapeworm). Some of the medically important tapeworm species are Taenia solium (pork tapeworm), Taenia saginata (beef tapeworm), and Diphyllobothrium spp. (fish tapeworm). Taeniasis pertains to the infection involving Taenia spp. whereas diphyllobothriasis refers to the infection caused by Diphyllobothrium spp. Often times, these conditions are asymptomatic. However, when symptoms do occur they include diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, and pernicious anaemia. Most tapeworm infections occur in Africa, Yugoslavia, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Mexico and parts of south America and the U.S.S.R.