Tapeworm Infestation is the infection of the digestive tract by adult parasitic flatworms called cestodes or tapeworms. Live tapeworm larvae (coenuri) are sometimes ingested by consuming undercooked food. Once inside the digestive tract, a larva can grow into a very large adult tapeworm. Additionally, many tapeworm larvae cause symptoms in an intermediate host. For example, cysticercosis is a disease of humans involving larval tapeworms in the human body.
Among the most common tapeworms in humans are the faeces tapeworm (T. solium), the beef tapeworm (T. saginata), the fish tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium spp.), and the dwarf tapeworm (Hymenolepis spp.). Infections involving the pork and beef tapeworms are also called taeniasis. Tapeworms of the genus Echinococcus infect and cause the most harm to intermediate hosts such as sheep and cattle. Infection with this type of tapeworm is referred to as Echinococcosis or hydatid disease. Symptoms vary widely, as do treatment options, and these issues are discussed in detail in the individual articles on each worm. With a few notable exceptions like the fish tapeworm, most cestodes that infect humans and livestock are cyclophyllids, and can be identified as such by the presence of four suckers on their scolex or head.
Most occurrences are found in areas which lack adequate sanitation and include Southeast Asia, West Africa, and East Africa.