Medications are available to treat taeniasis

Beef tapeworm infestation

Tapeworm infestation by the beef or pork tapeworm - also: täniasis

You will find separate descriptions of diseases for human infestations with fox tapeworm, dog tapeworm or fish tapeworm.


Beef and pork tapeworms are parasites that can be transmitted from their actual host animal to humans. They cause the disease teniasis. There are three types of worms: Taenia saginata, Taenes solium and Taenia asiatica. Only the species transmitted by pigs Taenia solium can cause serious health problems in the form of cysticercosis.


Around 40 to 60 million people worldwide are infected with the beef tapeworm. The disease occurs mainly in East and Central Africa. Pork tapeworm is less common, but potentially more dangerous. It is common in Africa, South and Central America, India, China and Southeast Asia.



People become infected with the tapeworm when they eat infected beef or pork that has been raw or undercooked. The fins (larvae of the tapeworm) are also consumed and then colonize the intestine.

Pig tapeworm eggs of the type Taenia solium are not (necessarily) ingested through raw meat. They get into the body when a person who is already a carrier of the pork fin tapeworm excretes worm eggs in the stool, and these are then passed on via contaminated drinking water, contaminated food or smear infections.


In many cases, the infection with a tapeworm progresses without major symptoms. Sometimes there are mild stomach and intestinal problems. But it also happens that the uninvited guest becomes 10 meters long and lives in the intestine for 20 years without being noticed at all. Often those affected only discover the worm infestation by finding worm components in the stool.

It can be dangerous if the tapeworm infestation develops into cysticercosis. The fins (larvae) of the pork tapeworm then attack various organs such as muscles, skin or eyes. In about 60% of all cases, the brain and the central nervous system are affected, which can lead to serious functional failures. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that cysticercosis, which affects the brain, is responsible for 30% of all epilepsy diseases in the corresponding areas of distribution.


Täniasis: Tapeworm carriers usually have few and unspecific complaints. These can include: excessive hunger, weight loss, indigestion, stomach pain and a slight itchy anus. If tapeworms are suspected, the doctor will examine a stool sample for individual limbs of tapeworms.

Cysticercosis: Clear clinical symptoms such as neck stiffness, epileptic seizures and signs of intracranial pressure give the doctor indications of cysticercosis. The disease is detected through serological blood tests, imaging tests, and surgical removal of fins.

Treatment / therapy

Both diseases are treated with worm-killing drugs, so-called antihelmetics (e.g. praziquantel). The täniasis heals completely again. The therapy of cysticercosis is usually additionally supported with cortisone and / or anti-epileptic drugs. Sometimes surgery is needed to remove the fins.


To avoid infection with the beef or pork tapeworm, one should not eat raw or poorly cooked meat. This is especially true when traveling to countries with a low standard of living, where state meat hygiene controls do not work properly. One way to safely kill tapeworm larvae is to freeze meat for at least 10 days at -18 ° C.

The best way to protect yourself against an infection with cysticercosis is to wash your hands frequently when traveling to the affected countries, only drink water from the originally closed bottles and when eating strictly according to the rule: cook it, boil it, peel it or forget it ? lives.