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What test should be done to detect tapeworm infection?

Answered by
Dr. Sudhir Kumar


Practicing since :1994

Answered : 5694 Questions

Posted on Thu, 7 Feb 2013 in Infections
Question: I had a tapeworm and have had no success in proving it via stool samples. I began taking a parasite cleanse and w/in a week saw the tapeworm in the toilet. I have not seen anything since and am very concerned it is cystic/invasive. The hospital told me there is no way to test to see if it is cystic via the blood and I am wondering if there is any specific blood test I can request to make for certain. Or is there any other way to tell? The blood I did have tested showed no signs of infection and the dr says he wasnt concerened, but I am, I know my body better than anyone else, Please help.
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 3 hours later

Thank you for posting your query.

First of all, I would like to reassure you that there are very little chances of the tapeworm infection being invasive in your case, as you have seen the worm pass out in the stool.

If it becomes invasive, there are three common areas where they infect- brain, muscles (of thighs) and extra ocular muscles (around the eyeballs). The common symptoms would be headache/fits, pain in thighs, limited eye movements respectively. If you do not have any symptoms then most likely you do not have the invasive tapeworm infection.

Blood tests that are helpful are- high eosinophils count in the blood and anti-cysticercal antibody test (ELISA).

For actually seeing the cystic or other stages of invasive tapeworm, tests that are useful are MRI of brain and orbits (to detect tapeworms in brain and eye muscles) and ultrasound or X-ray of thighs.

I hope it helps. Please get back if you have any more queries.

Best wishes,
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD DM (Neurology) XXXXXXX Consultant Neurologist
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Sudhir Kumar 23 minutes later
Is there any other specific blood test that can determine a cystic tapeworm infection? What would that be? Do I need to ask specifically for the ELISA test from a Dr. and is the eosinophils count determined from a basic blood test such as the one I had done the other day? I have also read that depending on the tapeworm that it can go to other organs besided the ones you mentioned.
Answered by Dr. Sudhir Kumar 1 hour later

Thank you for getting back.

There is no specific blood test to determine the cystic stage of tapeworm. However, if someone has a specifc body part affected (such as brain, eye muscles or thigh muscles), the cysts can be seen on the MRI of that area.

Anti-cysticercal antibody ELISA test can be done on a blood test and you have to ask for this specifically (however, again it is not a highly specific test).

Eosinophil count can be checked in a routine blood test.

Involvement of other organs is rare, and may happen in those who are immuno-compromised (such as HIV infection, diabetes, those on steroids, etc).

I hope it clarifies.

Best wishes,
Dr Sudhir Kumar MD (Internal Medicine) DM (Neurology)
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

The User accepted the expert's answer

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