Tape Worm

Tape Worm

By: Johan

The tape worm is a being belonging to the parasitic flatworm class Cestoda. They are quite a nuisance to all infected animals but might be hard to discover as the first symptoms are abdominal discomfort and loss of appetite. It is not until bits and parts of the tape worm are found in the stool that the infection can be confirmed. Then, luckily, it is quite easily cured and one can go back to the normal world without tape worms. Theories tend to differ when it comes to if the tape worm indeed is a worm or a colony of many proglottids. Keep reading to find out why.

Tape worm - The head
This part of the tape worm, also known as scolex, has only one function, to attach to the inside of a hosts intestine. This can be achieved through a lot of different ways. Some tape worms has small suction cups which it uses, some have more nasty variants of claws, teeth and hooks to stay in place. Just as long as they can stay in a nice spot and have the hosts already digested food the tape worm will be quite comfy, and will grow.

Tape worm - The neck
It is the only part of the tape worm that will grow with its age. This does not necessarily mean over time since it is not the neck that gives the tape worm its great length. The neck only grows as the tape worm gets older. And that length is not very much at all keeping in mind that a regular tape worm can become over 80 feet (24 meters) long.

Tape worm - The proglottids
At the end of the neck are the proglottids and it can be quite difficult to explain what they are. Although they are not really part of the tape worm they are still attached to it and growing in segments from it. Nearest the scolex these proglottids are extracting nutrition from the hosts passing stool and they are both of female and male sex. Further down, segment by segment, they have seemed to loose some of these abilities and at the end by the last segments, close to the rectum of the host, they are nothing less than sacks of eggs ready to be released and passed on. If they are individual animals as in a colony or just a piece of the scolex and neck is difficult to know, but the common understanding is that the whole works, scolex, neck and proglottids, are pieces of one and the same animal, the tape worm.

Tape worm - Life cycle
Now the eggs of the tapeworm can not infect a host immediately, it will need an intermediate host first to transform in. This can be almost any non-mammal animal such as fleas, insects or fish. Once the transformed the tape worm awaits the day for its intermediate host to be eaten by the tape worms definitive host so it can fulfil its fate, growing large and release new tape worm eggs.

Tape worm - Treatment
Once detected the tape worm is quite easily removed with medical treatment. Antiparasitic medication has come very far and will not be dangerous for the host as the tape worm simply will dissolve inside the body and eventually be passed. Follow up medications might though be necessary as the tape worm can be quite hardy.

Tape Worm Articles:

Dog tape worm
Tape worm symptoms


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