The infections with a Dog tapeworm or one Fox tapeworm are life-threatening diseases for humans. The complex process of infection and the associated symptoms of the disease should be observed with great care, as thorough hygiene can avoid them. In addition, early diagnosis makes them easier to treat.
Tapeworms live as parasites in the intestines of humans or other vertebrates. There are many different types of tapeworm. Each species can cause different complaints, although only a few species can pose a threat to humans. In the picture, the head of a tapeworm. Click to enlarge.
The infection with a dog tapeworm gets the clinical picture of the cystic echinococcosis emerged. This disease is characterized by cystic changes in various organs. Such fluid-filled cavities can be the size of a child's head and contain living worm tissue. The main organ affected is the liver, but such cysts can also develop in the lungs, heart or brain as a result of infection with a dog tapeworm.
Fox tapeworm infection affects the liver. The germ tissue of the fox tapeworm initially forms sprouts that grow into the liver tissue like tumors. Only later do cavities appear that resemble the appearance of branched alveoli. Hence this infection with a fox tapeworm is called alveolar echinococcosis.
A dog tapeworm and a fox tapeworm are three to six millimeters in size. They consist of several components that perform different tasks for infection and reproduction. The head is called Scolex and is used by the dog tapeworm and the fox tapeworm to anchor in the intestinal mucosa. The body of these tapeworms usually consists of three limbs, the proglottids. The last of these proglottids bears hundreds of eggs.
These filled proglottids detach from the dog tapeworm or the fox tapeworm and are excreted with the feces. This process takes place in the so-called final host. In the case of the dog tapeworm, these are dogs or dog-like animals; in the case of the fox tapeworm, they are foxes, dogs or cats.
Other animals or humans ingest these eggs with a dirty meal. These mainly include sheep, pigs, cattle and camels. However, a person can also become infected by eating such animals. Humans or animals infected by eating are so-called intermediate hosts.
Small larvae hatch in the intestine from the eggs that have been ingested by the intermediate host. These are called oncospheres and penetrate the intestinal wall into the vascular system and thus get into the organs and develop the characteristic changes.
Infectious units also develop in the cysts of the organs. A person can therefore also become infected with a dog tapeworm or fox tapeworm by eating meat from the animals concerned. Every now and then, mushroom pickers or people who have picked blueberries (blueberries) in the forest become infected. These can be filled with eggs through the feces of foxes or other animals. If the mushrooms or blueberries are not washed or boiled properly, an infection can quickly occur.
The symptoms of infection with a fox tapeworm and a dog tapeworm are similar. Both tapeworms belong to the Echinococcus species and preferentially attack the liver. The course of a dog tapeworm is more favorable because it can be completely fought by the immune system. Infections with a fox tapeworm, on the other hand, are often fatal, even with treatment.
Initially, there are no symptoms of fox tapeworm infestation. It is only after a long period of around 15 years that the first symptoms appear, which are occasionally expressed as a feeling of pressure and pain in the upper abdomen. As the disease progresses, jaundice occurs. The portal vein is also narrowed.
This creates increased portal pressure, which can lead to varicose veins in the esophagus. Ultimately, death can occur from the complete destruction of the liver. A cure is only possible with early treatment. However, if the first symptoms appear, only the progressive course can be delayed. Even with an infestation with the dog tapeworm, the first symptoms only appear after about 15 years.
However, these depend on the organ affected. Since the liver is usually also affected here, the symptoms are often similar to those of an infection with the fox tapeworm. However, the peritoneum, pleura, lungs, brain, bones or heart can also be affected with specific symptoms. In contrast to the fox tapeworm, however, spontaneous remission is possible with dog tapeworms.
An infection with a dog tapeworm or fox tapeworm can in most cases be easily diagnosed with imaging tests. An ultrasound scan is a good way of showing cysts in the liver.
The solid changes in the liver caused by a fox tapeworm are often better visualized by computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. These methods are also suitable for detecting cysts in other organs. Additional blood tests, in which, for example, antibodies against the worm tissue are detected, complement the diagnostic options.
The symptoms of an infection are caused by the severe impairment of the affected organs. For example, jaundice can occur due to impaired liver function. If there is a focus of infection in the brain, neurological deficits are possible.
The fox tapeworm is a life-threatening disease. If left untreated, the patient usually dies. In most cases, the fox tapeworm causes severe discomfort in the abdomen and stomach. Severe pain occurs, which can persist even without consuming food and often cannot be relieved with the help of painkillers.
The patient is also permanently tired and exhausted and suffers from jaundice. Fatigue cannot be counteracted by getting enough sleep. The quality of life is considerably reduced by the fox tapeworm. It is also no longer possible for the patient to pursue physical or sporting activities.
The treatment usually takes place in the form of a surgical procedure. This is necessary, as otherwise the patient will die from the fox tapeworm. In addition, the patient must take various medications to avoid further infections. If treatment is successful, life expectancy will not be reduced. If surgery is not possible, the cysts are treated with medication.
If worms or worm parts are seen in the stool, a doctor should be consulted within the next few days. Unusual symptoms such as itching in the anal region or abdominal pain also require medical clarification. Fever, weight loss, and signs of anemia suggest advanced fox tapeworm infection that should be investigated and treated promptly.
If the symptoms mentioned occur after contact with a fox or another possibly infected animal, the person concerned must visit a hospital as soon as possible. At the latest, if you notice bloody stool or if you repeatedly cough up or spit blood, you should see a doctor.
Children, the elderly, pregnant women and the sick should report to a doctor or pediatrician immediately if they have unusual symptoms. The same applies to people who suffer from a serious bowel disease or who have complained about the symptoms mentioned for a long time. If there are signs of liver dysfunction or serious circulatory problems, it is best to call the ambulance service or contact the medical emergency service.
The course of an infection with a dog tapeworm or fox tapeworm is fulminant without therapy. The treatment of choice is surgical removal of the cysts.
However, if a cyst is removed, there is a risk that worm tissue or eggs will be transferred to other areas and cause new infections. Therefore, drugs can also be given to prevent so-called recurrences.
Inoperable cysts or remaining tissue that has not been removed are treated with medication. In most cases, only the growth of the cyst can be prevented, so that long-term and permanent therapies are often necessary. For fox tapeworm, lifelong drug therapy may be required, as the cysts are too small to be surgically removed.
Patients who have been infected by a fox tapeworm usually have a good prognosis for medical care. The worm is completely removed in a routine operation. The patient then recovers.
If there are no further complications during the surgical procedure, the person concerned will be discharged from the treatment within a short time as symptom-free. A re-infestation of the dog tapeworm is possible at any time in the course of life. The chances of recovery remain positive for those affected as soon as they decide on treatment. If there is no medical care, the prognosis worsens considerably. In these cases, the patient is threatened with premature death instead of a cure.
The fox tapeworm is a life-threatening disease, so a doctor should be consulted in good time when the first symptoms set in. Therapy is made more difficult if the worm has already formed larvae and deposited them in the organism. Long-term therapy is often carried out in these patients because the pathogens are too small for surgical removal. Since the larvae cause irreparable tissue damage, medication is necessary. The human liver is particularly at risk. In individual cases it can lead to lifelong treatment with drugs.
To prevent dog tapeworm or fox tapeworm infection, thorough personal hygiene is the best protection. Another important precaution is the regular inspection of meat. Infections with a dog tapeworm and a fox tapeworm are notifiable, so that close controls by the authorities also prevent the spread of such an infection. Mushroom pickers or pickers of blueberries should wash their fruits or mushrooms thoroughly. However, it is better to boil them.
Follow-up care in the event of an infestation with the fox tapeworm or the dog tapeworm depends on the course of the disease and the measures already taken. Almost all those affected by echinococcosis have to resort to medication for a lifetime, as the parasites often cannot be completely killed. Regular check-ups are also required.
Imaging techniques are used to continue observing cysts (old and new) and to detect organ damage at an early stage. The method of choice here is ultrasound, with the liver receiving special attention. Follow-up care also includes recognizing the need for an operation after the start of therapy and the reaching of a silent stage of the disease.
Despite the improvement in the condition, critical cysts can occasionally appear, which should be removed. In addition, the measures that are intended to help directly against the fox tapeworm or the dog tapeworm also require follow-up care. These include, for example, wound care after surgery, aftercare after chemotherapy or pain treatment.
In addition, the drugs used lead to side effects in some of the patients after a while, which makes it necessary to change the therapy. Overall, monitoring the success of therapeutic measures is therefore very important in order to differentiate between necessary and unnecessary medical interventions.
A fox tapeworm requires extensive medical therapy. Those affected can, however, support the treatment through various measures and some resources from the budget and nature.
First, the doctor will recommend a laxative diet. Cabbage vegetables, sauerkraut and the like help to excrete the tapeworm quickly and to rid the gastrointestinal tract of any residues. You should also drink a lot, such as herbal teas with chamomile and lemon balm or laxative teas from the pharmacy.
In general, garlic, carrots, black cumin oil and a number of other plants and plants are said to have soothing effects. Corresponding remedies do not help directly against the fox tapeworm, but alleviate accompanying symptoms such as pain, stomach cramps and heartburn.
An alternative remedy from homeopathy is the preparation Abrotanum D1. In order to avoid complications, the use of alternative methods and remedies should be discussed with the doctor beforehand. After the treatment, strict bed rest and rest applies to those affected. Finally, the cause of the infection with the fox tapeworm should be determined. The worm may have been transmitted by a pet, which must be treated accordingly and vaccinated against a new parasite infestation.