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Taeniasis and Cysticercosis (Pork Tapeworm)

Taeniasis and cysticercosis are two different diseases caused by the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium—a parasite of pigs and humans. Taeniasis is an intestinal infection with the adult tapeworm and occurs only in humans. A person who eats raw or inadequately cooked pork that contains the cysts of the tapeworm will develop taeniasis and then shed tapeworm eggs in their feces. Persons with taeniasis typically have few or mild symptoms such as abdominal pain and weight loss.

Cysticercosis occurs when a person unknowingly eats pork tapeworm eggs from feces of a person with taeniasis. After ingestion, tapeworm larvae migrate out from the intestine to encyst in brain (neurocysticercosis), muscles, or other tissues causing seizures, headaches, or other symptoms. Pigs can develop tapeworm cysts in their meat when they consume feces from persons with taeniasis.

Although the pork tapeworm is common in many parts of the world, U.S. regulations and animal husbandry practices have virtually eliminated the parasite from commercial pork in the United States. All pig meat—especially from wild swine or those raised outside the U.S.—should be thoroughly cooked before eating.

Last modified on: 8/9/2016 2:03 PM