Signs & Cures for Tapeworms in Cats & Humans

Tapeworm infections are contracted through ingestion of the larva or eggs of the tapeworm. Humans can unwittingly develop a tapeworm infection through consumption of infected food or drink. Humans' feline friends on the other hand can contract tapeworm infections from ingesting infected parasites such as fleas and ticks. In most cases infections in both humans and cats are more of a nuisance than a serious health condition.

  1. Signs in Humans

    • According to the Mayo Clinic, most humans with intestinal tapeworms will actually display no symptoms. Symptoms present themselves depending on the variety of tapeworm infection and its location in the body. Intestinal infections that do display symptoms will be apparent through loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness, nausea and weight loss due to inadequate absorption of nutrients (which can cause vitamin B12 deficiency).

      Other more serious signs include invasive infections which migrate into the intestines and form cysts on other tissues, seizures, fever, bacterial infections and neurological symptoms. Allergic reactions to the larvae can present symptoms as well.

    Treatments for Humans

    • Just as most humans do not display symptoms of a tapeworm infection, most do not require treatment either. In most cases the tapeworm simply exits the body on its own. In the event that treatment is required, a medical doctor will prescribe a common oral medication that poisons the adult tapeworms, rather than the eggs. Careful hygiene will prevent re-infestation from the surviving eggs. Treatments for the more serious invasive tapeworm can include anthelmintic drugs which shrink some tapeworm cysts, anti-inflammatories for swelling of tissue or organs, anti-epileptic therapy for treatment of seizures, shunt placement to relieve fluid on the brain or surgical removal of cysts.

    Signs in Cats

    • As with humans, tapeworm infection in felines typically displays no symptoms as well. It may take an extended period of time for symptoms to be apparent, and when they are they can include vomiting, convulsions, extreme itching, licking irritation, nervousness and/or listlessness in the cat. Generally, however, signs and symptoms of a tapeworm infection will go unnoticed or be mistaken for other illnesses prior to diagnosis.

    Treatment for Cats

    • Treatment for tapeworm in felines requires a simple visit to the veterinarian for a prescription of an oral medication or injection that will kill the tapeworms.

      An over-the-counter medication called Tradewinds Tapeworm Tabs are also available for cat owners to treat the infection at home. Re-infestation should be prevented by daily removal of feces and cleansing of the litter box with disinfectants on a regular basis. Controlling parasites such as fleas and ticks, which can be hosts to tapeworms, is prudent as well.

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