Taenia solium- Life history, development and adaptations


Taenia solium is a parasitic tapeworm that belongs to the family Taeniidae. It has a complex life cycle that involves two hosts: humans and pigs. Humans can become infected with T. solium in two ways: by eating undercooked pork that contains the larval stage of the parasite (cysticercus), or by ingesting the eggs of the adult worm that are shed in the feces of another human (oncosphere). The former infection leads to taeniasis, which is a mild intestinal disease characterized by the presence of a long, segmented worm in the gut. The latter infection leads to cysticercosis, which is a serious tissue disease caused by the development of cysts in various organs, especially the brain and muscles. Cysticercosis can cause neurological symptoms such as seizures, headaches, blindness and even death. Neurocysticercosis is the most common preventable cause of epilepsy in many endemic areas .

T. solium is found throughout the world, but it is most common in countries where pork is eaten and where sanitation and hygiene are poor . It is estimated that about 50 million people are infected with T. solium worldwide, and that about 2.5 million people suffer from neurocysticercosis. The disease burden of T. solium is mainly borne by poor and marginalized communities, where people and pigs live in close proximity and where access to health care and diagnosis is limited. T. solium also causes economic losses for pig farmers, who have to discard infected meat or sell it at lower prices.

T. solium can be controlled and eliminated by a combination of interventions, such as mass drug administration for human taeniasis, pig vaccination and treatment for porcine cysticercosis, meat inspection and proper cooking of pork, and improvement of sanitation and hygiene practices . The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued guidelines for preventive chemotherapy for the control of T. solium taeniasis/cysticercosis in endemic areas. The goal is to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with this neglected tropical disease and to improve the quality of life of affected populations.