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Taenia asiatica (Asian Tapeworm) Infection


Chelsea Marie

, PhD, University of Virginia;

William A. Petri, Jr

, MD, PhD, University of Virginia School of Medicine

Last review/revision Dec 2021 | Modified Sep 2022
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Infection with the Asian tapeworm Overview of Tapeworm Infections Tapeworms (cestodes) are flat, parasitic worms. The four main intestinal cestode pathogens of humans are Taenia saginata ( beef tapeworm) Taenia solium ( pork tapeworm) Hymenolepis... read more , 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 Taenia Saginata (Beef Tapeworm) Infection Infection with the beef tapeworm, Taenia saginata, may cause mild gastrointestinal upset or passage of a motile segment in the stool. It is treated with praziquantel or niclosamide. Cattle... read more ), 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 Cysticercosis Taenia solium infection (taeniasis) is an intestinal infection with adult tapeworms that follows ingestion of contaminated pork. Adult worms may cause mild gastrointestinal symptoms or passage... read more 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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