Tapeworms are flat, segmented worms that live in some animals’ intestines. When animals graze in pastures or drink contaminated water, they can become infected with these parasites. But did you know that doctors could find a 20-foot-long tapeworm inside a man’s small intestine?
A man in China eventually had a 20-foot-long tapeworm living in his small intestine after eating raw beef constantly for a couple of years. It turned out that the tapeworm had been inside his small intestines for at least 2 years.
The 20-Foot-Long Parasite
According to a new case report, a man in China who enjoyed eating raw beef became infected with a parasite, a 20-foot-long tapeworm, due to including this food in his diet.
According to the case report, the parasite had attached to the 38-year-old man’s small intestine. It had likely been inside him for at least two years before doctors diagnosed the infection as beef tapeworm of the species Taenia saginata.
Tapeworm infections are uncommon in Central China, where this case occurred, according to Jian Li of Renmin Hospital in Shiyan, China, who diagnosed the man and co-authored the case report.
The man went to see his doctor in the spring of 2015 because he was experiencing stomach pain and vomiting, had lost his appetite, felt weak, and was losing weight, according to the case report, Li told Live Science. The symptoms had only been present for three days, but the man had already lost 5 to 10 kilograms.
When the man arrived at the doctor’s office, he brought a fragment of the parasite found in his stool. He also admitted to his doctor that he enjoyed eating raw beef.
The man’s medical history also revealed that he had seen several different doctors over the previous two years and received treatment for stomach aches, abdominal pain, and anemia, a low level of healthy red blood cells.
Tapeworms can live in a person’s intestines for years and cause no or only mild symptoms, such as fullness or nausea after eating.
However, it takes a long time for tapeworms to grow as long as this one did, according to Hotez, who added that other types of invertebrates, including worms, flies, snails, and mosquitoes, do not live as long as tapeworms do. (Source: Live Science)
What Causes of Tapeworm?
Six types of tapeworms can infect humans. Taenia saginata from beef, Taenia solium from pork, and Diphyllobothrium latum from fish are the most common ways to identify them.
Tapeworms have three stages of development: an egg, an immature stage known as a larva, and an adult stage in which the worm can lay more eggs. Because larvae can enter their hosts’ muscles, the infection can occur when you consume raw or undercooked meat from an infected animal.
Pork tapeworms can also be contracted through foods prepared by an infected person. Because tapeworm eggs are passed in bowel movements, a person who does not thoroughly wash their hands after wiping and preparing food may contaminate it. (Source: Web MD)
Image from LiveScience