"The combination of appropriate medical treatment and effective preventive measures are essential to control and prevent taeniasis."


What is taeniasis?

Taeniasis is a parasitic disease of the human intestine. The species of tapeworm most commonly associated with taeniasis are Taenia saginata, which is found in cattle, and Taenia solium, which is found in swine. These species have similar morphological characteristics, but differ in their life cycle and in the consequences of their infection for humans.

These parasites belong to the group of cestodes, which are flatworms or flatworms. Taeniasis can affect people of any age and gender, and its presence is more common in areas where hygiene and sanitation practices are poor.

This parasitic infection can be transmitted through the consumption of raw or undercooked meat. Symptoms include abdominal discomfort, weight loss and diarrhea. It is important to diagnose and treat taeniasis properly to avoid complications.

In addition, prevention focuses on proper food hygiene and thorough cooking of meat. 

What are the usual symptoms of taeniasis?

Taeniasis is characterized by a number of clinical manifestations that may vary in each individual. The most common symptoms include abdominal discomfort, nausea, loss of appetite and weight loss.

In addition, in some cases, complications such as intestinal obstruction or bile duct blockage may occur.

It is important to note that not all infected individuals will have symptoms, making early detection difficult.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Abdominal discomfort and stomach cramps.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss for no apparent reason.
  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Weakness and fatigue.

Do you have any of these symptoms?

You may have a tapeworm infection

How does tapeworm act in the human body?

The tapeworm is a flat, segmented parasite that can reach up to 10 meters in length, residing predominantly in the small intestine of its host, usually a human.

Once in the intestine, the tapeworm attaches to the intestinal wall via its scolex or head and begins to absorb nutrients from the host, growing and reproducing by producing proglottids, which are segments containing eggs.

It can remain in the intestine for years, feeding and releasing proglottids that are expelled with the feces, thus propagating its life cycle.

Tapeworm life cycle

The tapeworm life cycle consists of two distinct phases: the adult phase in the human intestine and the larval phase in cattle or pigs. Humans become infected by ingesting the eggs or larvae present in raw or undercooked meat. Once in the intestine, the eggs are released and the larvae migrate through the intestinal wall, where they become adults and attach to the lining of the small intestine.

How is the tapeworm transmitted?

Taeniasis is transmitted primarily through consumption of raw or undercooked meat containing tapeworm larvae or eggs.

Cattle and pigs become infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with tapeworm eggs.

When raw or undercooked beef or pork is consumed, tapeworm larvae are released into the human intestine and initiate infection.

Person-to-person transmission is extremely rare, but may occur in rare cases due to poor hygiene or improper food handling practices.

How is taeniasis diagnosed?

<p>Imagen laboratorio de microbiolog&iacute;a&nbsp;</p>

Diagnosis of taeniasis is based on a combination of clinical symptoms, patient history and specific laboratory tests. It is essential to investigate the patient's history of consumption of raw or undercooked meat.

Among the most commonly used diagnostic methods are:

  • Analysis of fecal samples for the presence of tapeworm eggs or fragments.
  • Imaging tests, such as abdominal ultrasound, to identify possible complications or lesions.
  • Serological tests that detect specific antibodies against tapeworm in blood.

It is important to emphasize that early and accurate diagnosis of taeniasis is essential to initiate appropriate treatment and prevent possible complications.

How is taeniasis treated?

Tapeworm treatment

There are different medical treatment options to combat taeniasis.

The specialist physician will determine the most appropriate option depending on the clinical situation of each patient.

  • Pharmacological treatment: Antiparasitic drugs that act against the tapeworm, such as praziquantel or albendazole, are used. These drugs help to eliminate the parasite from the body and prevent possible complications.
  • Medical follow-up: Post-treatment medical follow-up is important to confirm complete elimination of the parasite and to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.

Prevention of tapeworm infection

Prevention of taeniasis is based on adopting hygienic and food safety measures. The following are some key measures:

  • Proper cooking of meat: It is essential to cook beef thoroughly, at sufficient temperatures to ensure the elimination of possible parasites.
  • Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked meat: It is recommended to avoid eating raw or undercooked meat, as well as underprocessed meat products.
  • Hygienic food handling: It is important to wash hands properly before and after handling raw meat, as well as to use clean utensils and avoid cross-contamination.
  • Sanitary control in meat production: Meat production establishments should have adequate sanitary control inspections and regulations to guarantee the quality and safety of meat products.
  • Education and awareness: Promote education and awareness on the importance of food hygiene, proper cooking of meat and taking preventive measures to avoid infection by taeniasis.

Where do we treat it?


The Infectious Diseases Service
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra

This area works on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases produced by an infectious agent, which can be bacteria, virus, fungus and protozoa. Infections affect people by causing very different processes that can be located in any tissue of the human body, so it requires a specific approach.

This area carries out its activity on three fronts: care work, focused on the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases; teaching, with training of medical students, resident doctors and nurses; and research vocation, through the development of clinical and laboratory studies.

Organized in care units

  • Infections associated with biomaterials.
  • Nosocomial infections (multi-resistance).
  • Infections in immunosuppressed patients.
  • Community infection.
  • Traveler's medicine.
  • Prudent use and optimization program of anti-infective therapy.
  • Control of infection by multi-resistant microorganisms.
Imagen de la fachada de consultas de la sede en Pamplona de la Clínica Universidad de Navarra

Why at the Clinica?

  • We perform the traveler's assessment and analytical tests in less than 24 hours.
  • Second opinion consultation when the infection has not yet been resolved.
  • We ensure the prudent use of antibiotics.