Taenia solium – The Pork Tapeworm

Taenia solium is also called the “Pork Tapeworm”. Is associated with the consumption of undercooked pork or the ingestion of material contaminated with Taenia solium eggs. The worms can be rather long measuring 4-12 M in length on average with some reaching a length of 25 M.

The adult worms produce about 1,000-2,000 proglottids which measure 2.1-2.5 mm long and 2.7-3.5 mm wide. Gravid proglottids are somewhat longer and wider (10mm long by 8.7mm wide). Within these gravid proglottids located at the distal are the eggs with each worm producing up to 100,000 eggs.

Disease / Pathogenesis

Taenia solium can cause mild abdominal discomfort. But Taenia saginata (the “Beef Tapeworm”) is most likely to cause abdominal discomfort. The main concern with Taenia solium is the potential for the development of cysticercosis.

Location in the Host

Taenia solium is located in the small intestine. However in the case of cysticercosis, the organism can occur in various tissue throughout the body. The brain is of greatest concern where the larva enter and encyst causing damage by inducing reactive inflammatory responses leading to headaches and seizures. Ultimately brain involvement can lead to death.

Geographic Distribution

Taenia solium is found worldwide. It is more prevalent in geographical areas where persons are in close contact with Pigs or are ingesting uncooked pork.

Life Cycle

Illustration of T. solium scolex illustrating the four suckers; the armed with hooklets rostellum. – illustration by W. Vientos

Morphology & Diagnosis

Taenia solium


Taenia sodium scolex – Note the suckers (4 total) and the rows of hooklets.
Photo by W. Vientos
Taenia solium close-up photos of the hooklets and a sucker. Scolex is rarely seen unless expelled out after treatment. Photo by W. Vientos

Taenia egg (20-30um) – note the striations in the thick outer shell as well as the appearance of the hooklets inside the. Both T. solium and T. saginata eggs are indistinguishable.. Illustration by W. Vientos