What is taeniasis and cysticercosis?
Taeniasis is usually characterized by mild and non-specific symptoms. Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhoea or constipation may arise when the tapeworms become fully developed in the intestine, 6–8 weeks after ingestion of the meat containing cysticerci. These symptoms may continue until the tapeworm dies following treatment, otherwise it may live for years.
For T. solium cysticercosis, the incubation period is variable, and infected people may remain asymptomatic for years. In some endemic regions (particularly in Asia), infected people may develop visible or palpable nodules (a small solid bump or node which is solid that can be detected by touch) beneath the skin (subcutaneous). These cysts are generally discovered by the host following spontaneous degeneration of the parasite or after treatment, where an inflammatory reaction may occur.
Neurocysticercosis is associated with a variety of signs and symptoms depending on the number, size, stage and location of the pathological changes as well as the host’s immune response and the parasite’s genotype, but it can also be clinically asymptomatic. Symptoms may include chronic headaches, blindness, seizures (epilepsy if they are recurrent), hydrocephalus, meningitis, dementia and symptoms caused by lesions occupying spaces of the central nervous system.