Claudia Tegtman, Staff Writer

Everyone can get tapeworms! Not only can you and your entire family be possible hosts to the long parasites, but so can a variety of animals including cats, dogs, fish, birds, and insects. But since they’re more common than you probably thought originally, it might help to know more about them.

How would you even get such a long parasite in your intestines in the first place? For people it’s usually because of contaminated drinking water or meat, and for animals it could be from the water, meat, or grass they rely on. Larvae can get into its host’s muscles so it’s important to make sure the meat you’re eating is well done or safe to eat. This means that butchers that cross contaminate their food are at a higher risk of getting tapeworm eggs or larvae into untainted meat.

There’s also more than one type of tapeworm that can infect a person, but generally tapeworms have a long body that resembles your younger brother’s rolled up play dough snake that he squished with a book for a flatter look. They also vary in length depending on the type of animal they’re inhabiting, so they’ll be much smaller in a bird in comparison to one found in a moose.

If you have a tapeworm you may now be wondering: “He can’t be too harmful so I could probably let him stay snug in there, right?” Unfortunately you can’t let tapeworms stay with you for a plentiful amount of rational reasons. Since tapeworms can migrate in the body, they can cause vastly different but equally dangerous effects to your heart, brain, eyes, and most commonly your intestines. It’s safe to say that he does not care for you so you don’t have to care for him in return.

Tapeworms can be interesting (when they’re not wiggling around inside of you or your loved ones) but it’s important to notice them early and get them removed so it won’t bother you for the rest of its life. They can cause many negative symptoms such as abdominal pain and weight loss, so you should go see your doctor if you suspect you might have a tapeworm. (Even if you don’t have a tapeworm you should get those symptoms checked out anyways so it’s a win-win situation).

If your doctor finds evidence of a tapeworm, you can trust that they can take care of the problem. They will have to figure out what type of tapeworm is in you, take blood tests, check your digestive track for damage, and much more, but it’ll be worth it.