What Is the Means of Transmission for a Tapeworm?
Tapeworms are parasitic worms who feed on their hosts by consuming a host’s nutrients. Tapeworms cannot live independently and survives only by living within a host. Tapeworm transmission can vary. Transmission to humans occur through eating contaminated food products, drinking contaminated water, through zoonotic infections (animal to human transmission) or improper hygiene. Animal infections occur through the ingestion of tapeworm larvae.
Transmission occurs through eating contaminated pork, drinking contaminated water and through touching surfaces that contain fecal matter of an infected person. Auto infection (where you reinfect yourself through poor hygiene) can also occur. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention, cysticerosis is prevalent in countries with poor hygiene techniques that allow pigs “to roam freely and eat human feces.”
Hymenolepis nana is also known as the dwarf tapeworm. It is considered the most common type of tapeworm infection within the U.S. and world according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Transmission of Hymenolepis nana occurs through eating foods contaminated with fecal matter, drinking contaminated water or through improper hygiene techniques (such as not washing your hands). Auto contamination can also cause reinfection.
Taenia saginata is somewhat related to Taenia solium. Taenia saginata is a tapeworm that is transmitted through the ingestion of eating raw or undercooked beef. According to Medical Microbiology, Taenia saginata is the largest tapeworm found within humans, with specimens reaching as large as 30 cm in one single day.
Dipylidium caninum is commonly found within canines. However, Dipylidium caninum infections can occur in humans and cats. Dogs and cats usually get Dipylidium caninum infections by accidental ingestion of infected fleas during grooming. Transmission occurs to humans through accidental ingestion of fleas as well, but Dipylidium caninum infections amongst humans is rare.
Tapeworms contain segments known as proglottids. Within the proglottids are reproductive organs. The proglottids lay eggs which then become larvae. The larvae then become consumed by animals or humans. Proglottids can easily break leaving the segment behind. An animal can consume the eggs within the proglottid which will then lead to infection and transmission. Once a larvae enters a host’s body, the growth of a larvae into an adult tapeworm will begin.