The Tapeworm Life Cycle

The most significant single difference between the tapeworm and most other parasite life cycles is that the tapeworm life cycle involves an intermediate host--the forage (or oribatid) mite. This mite is highly prevalent in equine environments, being found in hay, straw, and grass in densities of up to 20,000/m2. It ingests tapeworm eggs that are passed in the horse’s feces and immature stages of tapeworm (cysticercoids) develop within its body cavity. When horses digest infested forage mites, the cysticeroids are released and develop into adult tapeworms that attach to the horse’s intestine. Eggs are passed in the horse’s feces when tapeworm proglottids (body segments) become filled with mature eggs and detach from the rest of the tapeworm body.

Tapeworm Life Cycle
DIAGRAM COURTESY PFIZER ANIMAL HEALTH
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