The fish tapeworm is a broad, long worm, often growing to lengths of 3-7 feet at maturity and capable of attaining 30 feet. It is the longest tapeworm invading humans with as many as 4,000 segments (proglottids).
The main body of the worm is virtually filled with male and female reproductive organs allowing it to produce an incredible number of eggs, often more than 1,000,000 a day. The adult attaches to the wall of the intestine with the aid of two sucking grooves located in its head (scolex).
According to the CDC, ‘eating undercooked meat from infected animals is the main cause of tapeworm infection in people. Although tapeworms in humans usually cause few symptoms and are easily treated, they can sometimes cause serious, life-threatening problems. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms and know how to protect yourself and your family.’
Most infected people do not produce any symptoms. During the acute stage of disease, which has manifests 10 days after eating raw or insufficiently cooked fish, the symptoms may be similar to other tapeworm infections. This includes symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal discomfort and pain, flatulence, vomiting, nausea, and weakness. Chronic infestations may produce some of the same symptoms, or only vague discomforts including fullness in the upper abdomen, water retention, loss of weight, and malnutrition.
Some people are constantly hungry because the tapeworms are eating most of the food. There are times when the worm gets so large that it will cause a colon blockage. In some people a severe anemia may develop, because of the tapeworm’s ability to consume most of its host’s vitamin B12. Folate may be reduced as well. With the anemia that results, neurological symptoms can manifest including numbness, loss of vibration sense, and even some eye symptoms.
If you suspect you may have a tapeworm, message us or give us a call at (843) 917-8866