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Tapeworms (Cestoda)

Taenia solium, the pig tapeworm

The pig tapeworm parasitizes two hosts: The life cycle:

Short-Circuiting the Life Cycle: Cysticercosis

If tapeworm eggs should be ingested by a human instead of a pig (not all that uncommon in regions with poor sanitation), cysticerci can still develop. These may form large cysts — often in the brain — which can be life-threatening (far more so than a 20-foot tapeworm in your intestine).

Diphyllobothrium latum, the broad fish tapeworm.

This is the largest (up to 18 m = 60 feet!) tapeworm found in humans. It requires three hosts in order to complete its life cycle:

A single worm may discharge up to one million fertilized eggs into its host's feces each day.

Historically, human infection has been most common in countries along the Baltic Coast and in the Great Lakes region. But the growing popularity of sushi and sashimi made of raw Pacific salmon has caused infections by the fish tapeworm to become more common throughout the U.S.

Link to discussion of other flatworms (phylum Platyhelminthes)

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9 May 2011