The Life Cycle Of Flatworms (Tapeworm)


What is a flatworm (tapeworm)? Flatworm types, The life cycle of Tapeworms (Flatworms)

Bedford's Flatworm (Pseudobiceros bedfordi) in Fihalhohi, Maldives.

Bedford’s Flatworm (Pseudobiceros bedfordi) in Fihalhohi, Maldives. (Source :

Flatworms: (Platyhelminths) Tapeworms are flat-worms and there are two common types. (Platyhelminths)

  • Pork tapeworms They have hooks on the head
  • Beef tapeworms They don’t have hooks on the head

The body is flat like a ribbon and consists of many sections. These sections are called proglottids. Young proglottids are found near the head. Each one, as it matures, develops both male and female reproductive organs. Usually, when the eggs are mature the sperms of the same proglottid fertilize them. Most often it is the last proglottids that are full of fertilized eggs.

The life cycle of the tapeworm

  1. A person carrying the tapeworm inside him empties his feces in a field or garden.
  2. The feces are full of segments of the tapeworm. These segments contain fertilized eggs which contaminate the grass in the field.
  3. A cow or a pig comes along and eats this contaminated grass which contains the tapeworm eggs.
  4. The eggs enter the intestine of the cow and from each egg a larva having six hooks is produced.
  5. The larva bores a hole in the intestinal wall and passes into the blood stream of the animal.
  6. The blood containing the larva reaches the muscle tissue of the animal.
  7. In the muscle tissue the larva changes into the form of a cyst, called a bladder cyst or bladder worm.
  8. If the animal is killed and the meat is eaten by man the bladder cyst may go into his intestines. This will happen if the meat is not well or properly cooked.
  9. The bladder cyst has the complete head of a tapeworm. The wall of the cyst breaks and the head attaches itself to the intestinal wall using its suckers and, if it is a pork tapeworm, its hooks. The suckers are only used to attach themselves to the intestine.
  10. After this the neck region produces new segments and the tapeworm grows. The tapeworm has no digestive system at all . It absorbs man’s digested food through its membrane. Waste and poison are given out the same way since it has no mouth and no anus.

The tapeworm is harmful because it takes in digested food from the intestine. Also, their waste products, which are given out into the intestine are poisonous.

You can protect yourself against the tapeworm by;

  • 1- Eating meat which has been properly inspected.
  • 2- Eating meat which has been properly and well cooked.
  • 3- Making sure that there is proper disposal of sewage.
  • 4- Seeing a doctor if you have become infected and using proper medicine as prescribed by the doctor.


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