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Cestodiasis| Parasitic Adaptation of Tapeworm| Wandofknowledge

Cestodiasis| Parasitic Adaptation of Tapeworm| Wandofknowledge

Cestodiasis is the disease in man caused by infection due to tapeworms. The scientific study of the occurrence (distribution), transmission, frequency and control of infectious diseases in man is called epidemiology.


Human beings get infected by eating raw and inadequately cooked mainly for containing cysticerci of tapeworm.

Pathogenesis (Symptoms):

Man may fall a victim to adult tapeworm as well as its cysticerci; effects of the formerare referred to as taeniasis and those of the latter as cysticercosis.

  1. Taeniasis

    It is indicated by a variety of symptoms including pain in the abdomen, nausea, anaemia, increased appetite, indigestion, increase of eosinophil cells in blood, and above all, nervous disorders of the type occurring in epilepsy. These serious disorders are caused by toxins produced by the parasite and not, as believed earlier, by its continued drain on the host’s digested food. Hooks and suckers may cause mechanical irritation in intestine, which may initiate reverse peristalsis leading to auto-infection. Usually a single tapeworm is found to parasitize a host. This is because the presence of one tapeworm provides a kind of immunity or premunition to the host against fresh infection.

  2. Cysticercosis

    It is far more dangerous than taeniasis. Encystment of bladder may take place in the host’s voluntary muscles, cardiac muscles and even in some more delicate vital organs like liver, eyes and brain. Removal of cysticerci from these delicate tissues is extremely difficult. Cysticercosis of the brain results in several degenerative changes and necrosis in the brain and the patient shows epileptic behaviour.

Therapy (treatment):

Infection of tapeworm can be tackled by several anti-helminth drugs such as camoquin, carbon tetrachloride, oleoresin of male Aspidium (fern), quinacrine, antiphen, dichlorophen, etc. The most satisfactory compound for human infection is Yomesan (5-chloro-N-; 2-chloro-4- nitrophenyl). Under the action of drugs, strobila is removed but the embedded scolex persists which again buds off a new strobila. Removal of scolex can be brought about by surgery. Removal of cysticerci, especially from delicate organs like brain, eyes and liver is extremely difficult.

Prophylaxis (prevention):

Consumption of undercooked measly pork should be avoided. Faeces of infected persons should be properly disposed of and destroyed, preventing pigs having access to them and ingesting hexacanth embryos.

Parasitic Adaptations of Taenia/ Tapeworm

Tapeworm shows several adjustments to its internal parasitic life, in comparison with a free-living animal.

  1. External body covering or tegument, is freely permeably to water and nutrients, but protects against digestion by host’s alkaline digestive juices.
  2. Internal osmotic pressure is higher than that of the surrounding host’s fluid or tissue, and pH tolerance is high, 4 to 11.
  3. Adult as well as larva lack cilia and other organs of locomotion, which are not needed.
  4. Scolex, with suckers and spines, serves for attachment with the epithelial lining of the host’s intestine, so that parasite may not be ejected from intestine due to its peristaltic contractions.
  5. Alimentary canal is totally absent as the parasite absorbs readily available digested food of the host through its body surface. Microvilli of tegument also increase the absorptive surface.
  6. Circulatory, respiratory and sensory organs are absent, and nervous system poorly developed, as they are not needed.
  7. Respiration is anaerobic as free 02 is not available.
  8. 8) Reproductive system is immensely developed. Production of very large number of eggs (40,000 per gravid proglottid) suitably faces many challanges to survival of species.
  9. Resistent covering, shell or capsule around zygotes and embryos provides protection from unfavourable conditions.
  10. Hermaphroditism and proglottization ensures self-fertilization within the same proglottid or cross-fertilization with another proglottid, in the same worm.

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