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Can my child have a tapeworm? Well, it would be weird, very weird, but the answer is yes. Tapeworms are flat worms that settle in the small intestine and live with the patient without causing any benefit, which is why they are called parasites.
We tell you how to identify the presence of tapeworms in children, how it is diagnosed and what is the treatment.
The main symptoms that tapeworms cause in children are:
- Abdominal discomfort.
- Tendency to diarrhea.
- Mild anemia.
- Weight loss.
Precisely because of this last symptom (weight loss), the had It is better known as the 'tapeworm', or simply the 'lonely one'. And it is that at the beginning of the 20th century, cysticerci (larvae) were sold to lose weight, without the need for diet or exercise. Since it is not a remedy, but rather a disease that can present complications, such a commercial aberration persisted for a few years. However, nowadays there are still some cases of adolescents and adults who voluntarily decide to share their food with this 'magical' and dangerous slimming worm that can measure between 3 and 4 meters.
The main mechanism of contagion is through the ingestion of larvae from beef or pork that has not passed the mandatory controls by veterinarians, and has also been undercooked. In the case of beef, we will be infested by the so-called Taenia solium, while if the contaminated meat is pork we will be infested by Taenia saginata. By the way, there is no typo, we are infected by viruses and bacteria, but we are infested by parasites. That is the correct terminology.
The usual thing is that the human being acts as the definitive host, that is, what we have discussed so far: it ingests the larva and the worm develops in the small intestine. However, with tapeworms there is the particularity that we can also act as an intermediate host. The adult worm shed eggs in the feces of the infested person or animal. If we are not careful and do not wash our hands well, in the rare case that we live with a person infested by a tapeworm, we could ingest these eggs, which would lodge in the muscles and instead of developing an adult worm they would give rise to the larvae or cysticerci. In this way, the life cycle of the parasite would be closed.
The larvae, in addition to the muscles, can also be hosted in the brain. Over the years they grow little by little until occupying an important space within the brain, giving rise to pictures of seizures. This situation is known as neurocysticercosis and is very rare in Europe and North America, but quite common in Latin America, to the point that pediatricians say that 'an afebrile seizure in a healthy child, from South America, and with no history of epilepsy, is neurocysticercosis until proven otherwise.'
As almost always, everything has treatment and the infested they are cured after taking antiparasitic drugs. However, you have to watch what you eat, wash your hands well before and after eating food and, above all, ignore charlatans who sell magic slimming pills. To lose weight, it is best to exercise and not snack between meals. Other recipes, frog (or worm) can come out.
You can read more articles similar to Tapeworm or tapeworm during childhood, in the category of Childhood Illnesses on site.