How Do People Get Tapeworms?

Infected meat, such as pork, can transmit tapeworms to humans.
Infected meat, such as pork, can transmit tapeworms to humans. (Image: Image by, courtesy of Hernán García Crespo)

A tapeworm infection can be deadly. Incidents of tapeworms in humans are rare. Nevertheless, preventive practices are worth implementing in communities in order to reduce rates of infection from tapeworms.

Infected Meat

Consumption of insufficiently cooked meat, pork or fish is a cause tapeworms in humans. David J. Zimmerman, author of Killer germs: Microbes and Diseases that Threaten Humanity, remarks that "there is even danger in preparing gefilte fish, for cooks have a tendency to taste-test the partially cooked fish as it simmers (See Reference 1)."

Contaminated Soil

Tapeworm larvae can survive in an animal's feces, which may contaminate soil where fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested for human consumption.


Tapeworm in people transmits from person-to-person, such as when a Dwarf Tapeworm Infection spreads tapeworm eggs through feces.

Flea Transmission

Dr. Dan Wasmund of Woodside Veterinary Hospital of Devola, Ohio counsels readers that if children accidentally swallow fleas carried by a household pet, infections with the Dipylidium species of tapeworm can occur (See Reference 2).

Voluntary Injestion

A "tapeworm diet" helps people shed unwanted pounds by ingesting a tapeworm parasite. Once inside a willing host, the tapeworm grows and absorbs calories from her body (See Reference 3).

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