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Tapeworms as diet helpers

Charles T. Faulkner ctfaulkn at utkux.utcc.utk.edu
Thu Mar 6 15:59:22 EST 1997

On 6 Mar 1997, Javier Ambrosio wrote:

> body". The problem is if eggs tapeworm not corresponded to T. saginata
> (a tapeworm that infects without apparent problem to humans and this
> parasite only grows as large as intestine and eats well every day) and
> they are from Taenia solium (I strongly recommend to see about
> cysticercosis in this forum) the people will be a carrier tapeworm that
> is an excellent vehicle to transmit cysticercosis. The razon is that
> both types of eggs (from T. saginata and T. solium) are identical and
> not exists possibilities for visual differentiation.
	T. saginata infections are acquired by ingestion of the
cysticercus in poorly cooked meat. As you correctly indicated, when T. 
solium eggs are ingested, humans serve as intermediate host with cysticeri
in their tissues.  Eggs of all Taenid species (including Taenia sp,
Multiceps, and Echinococcus) are morphologically indistinquishable. 
Ingestion of Taenid eggs may result in clinical disease by producing space
occupying cysts (coenuri w/ Multiceps, and alveolar and multilocular
hydatid cysts w/ Echinococcus). Thus, the adverse health effects, far out
weigh any potential dietary effects, if one chooses to accept the  
antecedotal reports of efficacy as a dietary aid as something worthy of

Eggs of Hymenolepis nana are directly infective for humans and may have
been logical candidates for use as dietary aids. Again, I would like to
see some published evidence for this practice.  However, I think it is
unlikely that Drs in the 19th century endorsed use of tapeworms as a
dietary aid given the widespread acknowledgement of helminths as agents of
poor health and growth, and their prominent targeting for removal by
purveyors of patent medicine...."the kickapoo indian tapeworm secret by
the kickapoo medicine company".  It seems like there was a discussion of
tapeworms and folklore in a back issue of Parasit Today......around 1986?

     *  Charles T. Faulkner, M.A.                   *
     *  Clinical Parasitology Service               *
     *  Dept. of Comparative Medicine               *
     *  2407 River Drive                            *
     *  Knoxville, TN 37996-4500                    *
     *  Voice: (423) 974-5645  Fax: (423) 974-5640  *
     *  E-Mail: ctfaulkner at utk.edu                  *

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