What is fish tapeworm infection?

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A fish tapeworm infection can develop if raw or undercooked fish is eaten that has been contaminated by the parasite Diphyllobothrium latum or fish tapeworm.


This type of tapeworm thrives in hosts such as small organisms in the water as well as large mammals that consume raw fish. It can be passed via the feces of animals. An individual can become infected after ingesting incorrectly prepared freshwater fish that contain the tapeworm cysts.

Fish tapeworm is common in developing countries due to poor quality in sanitation, sewer systems and drinking water. Contaminated water especially from animal or human waste is likely to contain tapeworms.


Fish tapeworm infection rarely triggers any noticeable symptoms. The tapeworms are often discovered if the individual notices egg or segments of tapeworm present in the stool.

Some of the symptoms might include:

Fish tapeworm infection rarely triggers any noticeable symptoms but can trigger stomach pain and diarrhea.
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Chronic hunger or appetite loss
  • Stomach pain or cramping
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Weakness


A fish tapeworm infection can be managed using a single dose of medication without any lasting issues. The 2 main treatments for fish tapeworm infection include:

  • Praziquantel – used for various kinds of worm infections which causes severe spasms in the muscles of the worm so that it can be passed via the stool
  • Niclosamide – given precisely for tapeworm infections and eliminates the worm upon exposure. The deceased worm is later eliminated via the stool.

Treatment for fish tapeworm infection is required since it can trigger serious issues such as intestinal blockage or anemia.

Preventive measures

  • Cook fish at temperature of 130 degrees F for around 5 minutes
  • Freeze fish below the temperature of 14 degrees F
  • Observe proper measures when handling food especially washing hands and prevent cross-contamination with raw fish, vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid exposure to any animal suspected to be infected by tapeworm.
  • Be careful when eating and traveling in developing countries

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