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Taenia asiatica (Asian Tapeworm) Infection


Richard D. Pearson

, MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Last full review/revision Mar 2020| Content last modified Mar 2020
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Infection with the Asian tapeworm, Taenia asiatica, is limited to Asia. It is very similar to infection with T. saginata, but the primary animal reservoir is pigs rather than cattle.

The morphology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and management of intestinal infection with the adult T. asiatica tapeworm are similar to those for infections with T. saginata (beef tapeworm), but infection is acquired by eating pork, not beef. Adult T. asiatica range in size from 4 to 8 meters.

Infection with T. asiatica is limited to Asia and occurs mostly in China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, South Korea, India, and adjacent countries.

Pigs are the intermediate hosts for T. asiatica. Humans are infected by eating cysticerci (larvae) in raw or undercooked pork. After ingestion, the cysticerci mature into adult worms in the small intestine of humans.

Whether T. asiatica can cause cysticercosis in humans is not clear. Cysticercosis is infection with larvae, which develops after ingestion of ova excreted in human feces.

Symptoms of Taenia asiatica Infection

T. asiatica causes intestinal infection. Humans infected with adult T. asiatica worms are asymptomatic or have mild gastrointestinal symptoms. They may see proglottids (tapeworm segments) in their stool.

Diagnosis of Taenia asiatica Infection

  • Microscopic examination of stool for ova and proglottids

The stool should be examined for proglottids and ova; ova may also be present on anal swabs. Ova of T. asiatica are morphologically indistinguishable from those of T. saginata and T. solium. Molecular tests for parasite DNA can differentiate T. asiatica from T. saginata.

Treatment of Taenia asiatica Infection

  • Praziquantel

  • Alternatively, niclosamide (outside the US)

Treatment of T. asiatica infection is with a single oral dose of praziquantel 5 or 10 mg/kg.

Alternatively, a single 2-g dose of niclosamide (not available in the US) is given as 4 tablets (500 mg each) that are chewed one at a time and swallowed with a small amount of water. For children, the dose of niclosamide is 50 mg/kg (maximum dose 2 g) once.

Stools should be reexamined for Taenia ova 1 and 3 months after treatment to verify cure.

Infection can be prevented by cooking whole cuts of meat to ≥ 63° C (≥ 145° F) as measured with a food thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat, then allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming. Ground meat should be cooked to ≥ 71° C (≥ 160° F). Ground meats do not require a rest period.

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