Sometimes you might hear someone say: “You eat so much, you must have a tapeworm.” A tapeworm is a kind of flatworm that lives in the digestive tract of another animal or person, and takes in food which its host has partially digested.
Many people believe that a person with a tapeworm will eat a great deal more than usual, in order to feed the tapeworm. Actually, the amount of food a tapeworm eats is small, and won’t really affect a person’s appetite.
But tapeworms are still harmful, for they secrete poisonous substances in the digestive tract. Tapeworms aren’t very common in the United States today, and they can be killed with drugs.
A tapeworm usually gets into a person’s body through poorly cooked pork. A hog may eat tapeworm eggs, and when the tapeworm larvae hatch, they attach themselves to the hog’s intestines and other parts of his body.
A person who eats meat from this hog eats the larvae too, and these larvae may attach themselves to the person’s intestinal tract and begin to grow. Cooking kills the tapeworm larvae, and that’s one of the reasons why it’s important to fully cook all pork products.
A tapeworm may grow to a length of 30 feet!