Tapeworm Infection

Dr. Ajay Mohan (AIIMS)MBBS

January 10, 2019

March 06, 2020

Tapeworm Infection
Tapeworm Infection

What is tapeworm infection?

Tapeworms are flat worms that live inside a host’s (humans, animals) intestines. When tapeworms enter the human body through some source, they cause various biologic problems constituting tapeworm infection.

Tapeworm can also infect a person through their eggs or larvae.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

  • The initial symptoms of tapeworm infection include nausea and vomiting. One may also develop fever, along with, weakness, fatigue, and diarrhoea.
  • A person usually loses their appetite. On the contrary, they may also experience increased hunger (more than normal).
  • If the worm migrates to other parts of the body, then there are symptoms like a headache and serious neurological problems like seizures.
  • A patient can also develop allergic reactions and rashes due to allergens released by the tapeworm.

What are the main causes?

  • Tapeworms can infect the human body from sources like infected beef and pork. Based on the source, there are six main types of tapeworms that infect humans.
  • Eating raw or improperly cooked meat of an infected animal or drinking contaminated water can cause an infection.
  • A person who eats food prepared by an infected person can also develop the infection.
  • Poor personal hygiene like not washing one’s hands properly while handling food and cooking with unclean hands increases the risk of infection.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

  • If you present with symptoms of a tapeworm infection, a stool sample is taken to check for eggs or worms in faeces.
  • Sometimes multiple stool samples are collected, since the worm may be absent from a sample, but you can still have an infection.
  • CT scans, MRI or ultrasound are also used for diagnosis, especially if you have a swelling in the abdomen or a suspected cyst.
  • Blood tests will reveal if there is an infection in the body, and if antibodies are formed against tapeworms.
  • Sometimes, a person will be completely asymptomatic while the tapeworm persists in the body.
  • Medicines specific to this infection are prescribed. It is important to complete the entire course of the medicines.
  • If there is pain or swelling, other drugs like anti-inflammatory medicines are also given, along with, anti-helminthic drugs like albendazole to kill the eggs and the worms.
  • In severe cases, where there is a severe infection in the liver or the lungs, surgical removal is needed.
  • Every patient must maintain good personal hygiene and consume a healthy diet to avoid being re-infected.


  1. Webb C, Cabada MM. Intestinal cestodes. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2017 Oct;30(5):504-510. PMID: 28737550
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention [internet], Atlanta (GA): US Department of Health and Human Services; Parasites - Taeniasis
  3. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Tapeworm infection - beef or pork
  4. Better health channel. Department of Health and Human Services [internet]. State government of Victoria; Tapeworms and hydatid disease
  5. healthdirect Australia. Tapeworm. Australian government: Department of Health

Medicines for Tapeworm Infection

Medicines listed below are available for Tapeworm Infection. Please note that you should not take any medicines without doctor consultation. Taking any medicine without doctor's consultation can cause serious problems.