Taeniasis

Infectious Agent

Taenia solium (pork tapeworm) and T. saginata or T. asiatica (beef tapeworm).

Transmission

Eating raw or undercooked contaminated pork or beef.

Epidemiology

The highest prevalences are in Latin America, Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. Taeniasis has been reported at lower rates in Eastern Europe, Spain, and Portugal. Tapeworm infections are unusual in travelers.

Clinical Presentation

The incubation period is 8–10 weeks for T. solium and 10–14 weeks for T. saginata . Symptoms may include abdominal discomfort, weight loss, anorexia, nausea, insomnia, weakness, perianal pruritus, and nervousness. Symptoms are less likely for T. solium infection than for T. saginata infection.

Diagnosis

Presence of eggs, proglottids (segments), or tapeworm antigens in the feces or on anal swabs. Differentiation of T. solium from T. saginata and T. asiatica is based on morphology of the scolex and gravid proglottids.

Treatment

Praziquantel is the drug of choice, except in the setting of symptomatic neurocysticercosis (see Cysticercosis in this chapter). Niclosamide is an alternative but is not as widely available.

Prevention

Avoid undercooked meat.

CDC website: www.cdc.gov/parasites/taeniasis

Bibliography

  1. Cantey PT, Coyle CM, Sorvillo FJ, Wilkins PP, Starr MC, Nash TE. Neglected parasitic infections in the United States: cysticercosis. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2014 May;90(5):805–9.  [PMID:24808248]
  2. Garcia HH, Gonzalez AE, Evans CA, Gilman RH, Cysticercosis Working Group in Peru. Taenia solium cysticercosis. Lancet. 2003 Aug 16;362(9383):547–56.  [PMID:12932389]
  3. Wittner M, White ACJ, Tanowitz HB.Taenia and other tapeworm infections. In: Guerrant R.L., Walker D.H., Weller P.F., editors. Tropical Infectious Diseases: Principles, Pathogens and Practice. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. pp. 839–47.

Authors

Paul T. Cantey, Jeffrey L. Jones