Tapeworms in humans
have both male and female gonads and are capable of producing their
own parasitic worm eggs. They require several parasitic hosts through
various stages of development. The primary host (usually human)
passes the eggs from an adult tapeworm through their stool, which
can be absorbed into the soil through sewage, get into irrigation
water, or just get out into the general environment where various
animals or humans themselves may accidentally ingest the parasitic
worm eggs. Once inside the intestine, the eggs release the oncosphere
(first-stage larvae), making them an intermediate host, the oncosphere
then separates and invades the intestinal wall migrating to the
striated muscles, where it develops into a cyst-like structure,
a cysticercus. When the tapeworm gets into the tissue of the intermediate
host such as, a pig, cow, or fish, and a human eats the meat or
fish without fully cooking it, killing the larvae, then they will
become infected and subsequently become the definitive host.
Tapeworms can grow up to 30 feet and can live in the human body
for up to 30 years. They have hooks, spiny structures, or suckers
on their head and have flat ribbon like bodies.
Cooking meat and fish thoroughly
and practicing good hygiene are two ways to prevent
an infestation of Human Tapeworms. Children are very susceptible
to tapeworms since they like to handle pets and play in the dirt.
A human can ingest the parasitic eggs by handling stool and unknowingly
put their fingers into their mouth, or they eat unwashed fruit or
vegetables that were grown in contaminated soil or irrigated by
the contaminated water.