AskDefine | Define tapeworm

Dictionary Definition

tapeworm n : ribbon-like flatworms that are parasitic in the intestines of humans and other vertebrates [syn: cestode]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A type of parasitical worm which infests the intestines of both animals and humans.


Extensive Definition

Tapeworm is also an older name for a type of computer virus.
Cestoda is the class of parasitic flatworms, commonly called tapeworms, that live in the digestive tract of vertebrates as adults and often in the bodies of various animals as juveniles.


Authors Craig and Ito, in Intestinal Cestodes describe the gut-dwelling worm as a segmented, band like (Cestoda) in its adult stage (Craig & Ito 2007:524). What occurs in tissues and organs of vertebrates or humans, is the growth of a cyst-like juvenile or metacestode stage. The potential cause of illnesses and diseases is due to the metacestode stages happening in human tissues rather than the adult tapeworm (Craig and Ito 2007:524).
The tegument is the body surface of the adult tapeworm and due to this the tapeworms take the host nutrients and not attack the mucosa of the small intestine, or remove blood, hence infections are instead benevolent and most often don't show any signs of illness (Craig & Ito 2007:524). A carrier can notice the segments (proglottides) when using the bathroom for instance in the feces in a toilet bowl, around a latrine or frequently because the tapeworms are moving around constantly one may find it in the under-garments (Craig and Ito 2007: 524).

Life cycle

The life cycle of a tape worm starts out with an animal eating undercooked, infected meat. The tape worm will then grow, and release small packages with fertilized eggs and sperm. These packages are excreted out of the body. If they happen to, for example, get on grass, the package will open and by that time, the tape worm eggs will have developed. The eggs are released on to the grass, if a cow eats that grass, the eggs will become larva and burrow into the cow's muscle. And if that cow would be turned into meat and if any of that meat is undercooked, the whole cycle starts again.


The Scolex or "head" of the worm attaches to the intestine of the definitive host. In some groups, the scolex is dominated by bothria, which are sometimes called "sucking grooves", and function like suction cups. Other groups have hooks and suckers that aid in attachment. Cyclophyllid cestodes can be identified by the presence of four suckers on their scolex, though they may have other structures.
While the scolex is often the most distinctive part of an adult tapeworm, it is often unnoticed in a clinical setting as it is inside the patient. Thus, identifying eggs and proglottids in feces is important.

Muscular system

The main nerve center of cestode is in scolex, motor and sensory innervation depends on number and complexity of scolex. Smaller nerves emanate from the commissures to supply the general body muscular and sensory ending.1 The cirrus and vagina are innervated and sensory endings around the genital pore are more plentiful than other areas. Sensory function includes both tactoreception and chemoreception.1


The body is composed of successive units posterior to the scolex, the proglottids. The sum of the proglottids is called a strobila, which is thin, resembling a strip of tape, and is the source of the common name tapeworm. Like some other flatworms, cestodes use flame cells (protonephridia) for excretion, which are located in the proglottids.
Mature or gravid proglottids are released from the mature tapeworm and leave the host in its feces.
Because each proglottid contains the male and female reproductive structures, they can reproduce independently. It has been suggested by some biologists that each should be considered a single organism, and that the tapeworm is actually a colony of proglottids.


According to Intestinal Cestodes, authors Craig, and Ito 2007 suggest that the effects of this gut dwelling Cestodes are usually very minimal. The people that have been infected by this tapeworm have described the following symptoms: abdominal discomfort and pain, cramp, colic, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, restlessness, vertigo, headache, tiredness, malabsorption, anorexia, muscular pain, vitamin deficiency, megaloblastic anemia, weight loss (or gain), intestinal blockage, jejunal perforation, appendicitis, pancreatitis, pseudo-incontinence, pruritis ani, rectal-flutters, spontaneous voiding of segments from the anus, depression and psychosis (Craig & Ito 2007:524). Furthermore, through self-infection of Taenia Solium (the pork tapeworm) there has been in the past a serious life threatening infections of taeniais (also referred to as taeniosis) which may make the chances of neurocysticercosis go higher (Craig & Ito 2007: 524).


  • Craig,Philip & Ito, Akira (2007). "Intestinal Cestodes". Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases 20: 524-532.

External links

tapeworm in Czech: Tasemnice
tapeworm in German: Bandwürmer
tapeworm in Estonian: Paelussid
tapeworm in Spanish: Cestoda
tapeworm in French: Cestoda
tapeworm in Croatian: Trakavice
tapeworm in Italian: Cestoda
tapeworm in Georgian: თასმისებური ჭიები
tapeworm in Latin: Cestoda
tapeworm in Latvian: Lenteņi
tapeworm in Lithuanian: Kaspinuočiai
tapeworm in Hungarian: Galandférgek
tapeworm in Dutch: Lintwormen
tapeworm in Japanese: サナダムシ
tapeworm in Norwegian: Bendelormer
tapeworm in Polish: Tasiemce
tapeworm in Portuguese: Cestoda
tapeworm in Quechua: Unkaka
tapeworm in Russian: Ленточные черви
tapeworm in Simple English: Tapeworm
tapeworm in Slovak: Pásomnice (Cestodes)
tapeworm in Slovenian: Trakulje
tapeworm in Serbian: Пантљичара
tapeworm in Sundanese: Cacing pita
tapeworm in Swedish: Bandmaskar
tapeworm in Telugu: బద్దెపురుగు
tapeworm in Turkish: Şeritliler
tapeworm in Ukrainian: Стрічковий хробак
tapeworm in Chinese: 絛蟲綱

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Chilopoda, Chordata, Echiuroidea, Ectoprocta, Entoprocta, Monoplacophora, Nemertinea, Phoronidea, angleworm, appetite, canine appetite, drought, dryness, earthworm, emptiness, empty stomach, fishworm, helminth, hollow hunger, hunger, hungriness, inchworm, measuring worm, night crawler, nightwalker, polydipsia, relish, stomach, sweet tooth, taste, thirst, thirstiness, torment of Tantalus, worm
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