Taeniasis (tapeworm infestation)
In this section, you will learn about the definition, mode of transmission, clinical manifestations, and methods of prevention of taeniasis (tapeworm infestation). Taeniasis is a parasitic zoonotic disease caused by the adult stage of large tapeworms that live in the intestines of human hosts. One of the most common causative agent is the beef tapeworm, Taenia saginata, which has the cow as its intermediate host. Other tapeworm that can cause taeniasis (Taenia solium) has pigs as its intermediate host. Taeniasis due to beef tapeworm is highly prevalent in countries with widespread habit of eating raw beef (figure below) and poor sanitary conditions. Defaecation in open fields in grazing lands, disposal of raw human sewage in rivers and its use as a fertiliser, facilitate the spread of taeniasis.
Other tapeworm diseases also exist in certain communities, e.g. people in fishing communities may be exposed to fish tapeworms (Diphyllobothrium species). Hydatid disease is caused by Ecchinococcus tapeworms transmitted mainly by dogs, which also infect people, cattle, sheep and horses. However, in this study session, we are focusing exclusively on one of the most prevalent form of tapeworm infestation – taeniasis transmitted to humans by cows.