Although relatively uncommon, humans and especially infants and young children can contract tapeworms. There is a misconception that tapeworms are contracted from the feces of infected animals, primarily cats and dogs. It's important to understand the true causes, symptoms and treatments of tapeworm infestation.
Check your pets' stools for tapeworm eggs if you have dog or cat that has recently had, or has, fleas. The tapeworm, which is made up of segment, attaches itself to your pet's intestine and feeds. Each segment can contain up to thirty eggs, with the segments breaking off as the tapeworm grows and lays eggs.
Your infant or young child can become infected with a tapeworm through ingesting fleas as well. Occasionally, human infants and children can become infected from the dog or cat tapeworm by ingesting larvae-containing fleas. It was probably by seeing the moving cucumber-seed-shaped egg sacks in the child's diaper or stool that the tapeworm infestation was diagnosed.
Take your child to the doctor if she develops constant diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and sometimes, rectal or anal itching. You also need to take a sample of their stool, especially if you observe the small cucumber seed shaped eggs in your infant or child's diaper. Or your child may exhibit no symptoms at all.
Choose from among a variety of treatments if older family members become infected with tapeworms. One treatment your physician may suggest and that has been used since the early nineteen sixties is niclosamide (Niclocide). This drug is poorly absorbed from the digestive tract and rapidly kills tapeworms upon exposure. Side effects reported with niclosamide are infrequent and typically mild.
Understand that Niclocide tablets are chewed thoroughly and swallowed with water. For young children, the tablets may be pulverized and mixed with water. Patients are allowed to eat two hours after treatment. Recommended dosage is 2 grams for adults and about half this for children. If a family member or your child or infant is diagnosed with tapeworm a physician may also suggest you take, or give an infected family member, is praziquantel (Biltricide). This oral medication is 95% effective.
Follow treatment by self checking and/or having your pediatrician or family physician checking stool samples at one month and three months after treatment has been completed. Treatment can be considered successful if no eggs are present in several stool samples.