People can become infected with tapeworms by eating food or drinking water contaminated with tapewo...
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People can become infected with tapeworms by eating food or drinking water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae. In the US, most infections are caused by eating undercooked or raw, contaminated pork, beef, or freshwater fish. If you eat meat containing the larval form of the tapeworm, the larval cysts hatch and develop into adult worms in your intestine. Some types attach themselves to the wall of the intestine, grow, and produce eggs. Others exit your body with stool. An adult tapeworm can live up to 20 years and grow to 50 feet in length. Larvae can penetrate the intestinal wall and travel out of your intestine to other tissue such as your lungs or liver, where they can form cysts. Tapeworms in the intestine often cause no symptoms. Sometimes pieces of the tapeworm are excreted in stool. Other signs and symptoms include nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Tapeworm larvae that move out of the intestine and form cysts in other tissue can cause organ and tissue damage. Cysts in the brain can cause headaches, seizures, and other neurological symptoms. Treatment includes medication to kill tapeworms and corticosteroids.