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Endoparasites - Cysticercus

Cysticercus bovis: Adult tapeworm is Taenia saginata. Beef tapeworm of man, beef measles.

General Description: The principal host of this parasite is man. Cattle serve as the intermediate host. In cattle the parasite appears as small, fluid-filled cysts which give spotty or measle-like appearance to the beef muscle.

Life Cycle: Proglottids of the tapeworm leave man in the faeces and are eaten by cattle. The eggs in the proglottids hatch in the intestine. Immature forms penetrate the gut wall and are carried in the blood to muscles where they become a cysticercus which is a bladder worm with a scolex inside. Man is infected by eating inadequately cooked measly beef containing viable cysticerci. Adults develop in man in 3 weeks or more.

Location: Adults in small intestine of man. Cysticerci in striated muscles of cattle, anywhere in the body.

Geographical Distribution: Worldwide.

Significance: Inspection of cattle carcasses for Cysticercus bovis in order to avoid human consumption is time-consuming and expensive. Carcasses containing beef measles are condemned. Humans infected with Taenia tapeworms may be unaffected or have loss of appetite and diarrhoea. Cattle are usually unaffected by Cysticercus bovis.

Effect on Host: Full grown bladder worms are 7.5 to 9mm by 5.5mm and are not harmful to cattle.

Diagnostic Information: Infected humans may show proglottids in faeces.

Control: Humans with Taenia saginata shed eggs in faeces. Cattle exposed to the tapeworm eggs may become infected. For this reason animals should not be exposed to human faeces in any way. Water used for livestock purposes, either for drinking or pasture irrigation, should be free of faecal contamination. The disease is spread because of the practice of irrigating farms with human sewage.

Cysticercus in heart of a cow   Taenia – eggs   T. saginata scolex

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