More than thirty different types of tapeworm infections may affect the human body.
Some tapeworms are only a few inches long; others measure from 10 to 30 feet or more in length.
Types of tapeworms:
The Beef Tapeworm
The beef tapeworm, when fully grown measures 15-20 feet in length. Cattles may develop the disease by grazing on grass, contaminated with human waste and thus, pick up the eggs of this parasite. Humans contract the disease by eating incompletely cooked meat from such animals.
Measures 6-10 in length. Man becomes infected by eating inadequately cooked pork.
The largest of all, may measure up to 30 feet in length. Female worms may produce as many as a million eggs a day. This are discharged through the human bowl, and when they enter fresh water, they hatch and are eaten by water flees. Fresh water fish then eats the infected water flees, and the fish tapeworm parasites finally lodge in the muscles of the fish. When humans eat fish raw or insufficiently cooked, the parasites are released in the human intestine, and fully matured develop in five to six weeks.
They are other types of tapeworm infections, such as dwarf tapeworm, rat tapeworm and dog tapeworm. This are less common. The treatment is similar.
The clinical picture varies considerably depending on how many worms are present in the bowl.
Tapeworms may be harboured for years without causing much trouble, except passage of segments of the worm through the rectum. Some patients complain of hunger pain, which is sharp and stabbing but quickly relieved by food. They may be some anaemia which quickly clears up when the worms are expelled.
1. Atabrine or Quinacrine hydrochloride is the drug of choice for use against all tapeworms.
2. The patient should be on a liquid diet on the day preceding treatment, and the evening meal should be omitted.
3. Water may be given freely.
4. A soapsuds enema should be given in the evening.
5. Next day the patient should remain in bed.
6. Breakfast should be omitted.
7. Five tablets of atabrine or Quinacrine hydrochloride is the dose for adults. It should be given on an empty stomach with half a tea spoon of sodium bicarbonate in a glass of water.
8. Children weighing 40-80 pounds should be given half this dose. Those from 80-100 pounds should be given four tablets rather than five.
Prevention is important as in all other types of infestation.
1. All animal foods such as pork, beef and fish, if eaten at all should be thoroughly cooked.
2. Care should be taken to provide sanitary disposal of human waste and also to protect food against contamination by man, mice or rat.
3. Dogs and cats should be kept free from fleas and lice, to prevent the danger of tapeworm both in the animals and in children who play with them.