April 11, 2010
April 11 - Taenia solium
Having a pork roast for Sunday dinner? Then, you probably don't want to think about today's parasite, Taenia solium, the pork tapeworm. Humans can acquire these worms by eating undercooked pork and if so, then the tapeworms mature into adults and take up residence in the intestine, where they can grow up to 7 meters long and will release eggs in shed proglottids. However, sometimes humans are infected after ingesting eggs directly, which means the human turns into the intermediate host. In these cases, cysticerci or bladder worms can infect other tissues, including the brain, producing a very serious and potentially even fatal disease and sometimes must be surgically removed. A recent study has suggested that humans have been hosts to T. solium for 10,000 years and picked up the tapeworms from scavenging on ungulates, passing it on to pigs when they later domesticated these animals.