Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


Tapeworms can cause infection in people who drink contaminated water or eat undercooked meat from infected animals.

The infection in humans is usually easily treated but sometimes it can cause serious problems. In Australia, there is a risk of contracting hydatid disease from tapeworms in dog faeces. You should see your doctor if you have any signs of tapeworm infection.

Causes and risk factors of tapeworm

If you consume tapeworm larvae they develop into adult tapeworms in your intestines and cause intestinal infection. Intestinal tapeworm infections are usually mild.

But if you consume tapeworm eggs they can lead to cysts in other tissues or organs and cause life-threatening damage. The type of tapeworm you have will depend on the meat that caused your infection - for example, pork tapeworm.

Hydatid disease is caused by infection with a small tapeworm usually spread through sheep and dogs. Humans become infected if eggs pass from dog faeces to their hands and then their mouths.

Tapeworm symptoms

People with tapeworm infection often have no symptoms. If you have symptoms they’ll depend on the type of tapeworm and where it is in your body.

Intestinal tapeworm infection can cause:

  • nausea
  • weakness or tiredness
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach pain or loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

If you develop a complication you may have:

If you have hydatid disease, the tapeworm parasites have formed cysts in your liver, lungs or other organs, or bones.

Tapeworm treatment

Your doctor will ask for a stool sample and perhaps a blood test to confirm that you have tapeworms and what kind. You’ll probably be prescribed medicine to kill the tapeworms. If you have complications you may need other tests, medicine and perhaps surgery.

Tapeworm prevention

You can reduce your risk of tapeworm infection by:

Last reviewed: May 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 10 results

Tapeworms and hydatid disease | Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Fleas | Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Cysts | Better Health Channel

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Worms

Most families with young children have had to deal with worms from time to time. Although parents are often embarrassed if their children have worms, they are very common and usually not difficult to treat.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website


Threadworms Category: Child Health Topic: Infections and Parasites Send by email View as PDF Send by post Threadworms, also called pinworms, are tiny, very thin white worms about 5 millimetres long that live in the intestine and around the anus (bottom)

Read more on Queensland Health website

Fleas - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Fleas are wingless insects which have an irritating bite and are common pests on domestic cats and dogs and other animals.

Read more on SA Health website

Pets in the family

Practical and trusted advice about how to prepare a pet for a new baby, how to teach your child to look after a pet, and pet safety, illnesses and allergies.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Worms -

Threadworms: find out about symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and how to avoid re-infection.

Read more on myDr website


Threadworms are tiny parasitic worms that can infect your large intestine. The most common type of infection in Australia is Enterobius vermicularis and is particularly common in children.

Read more on WA Health website

Zentel Chewable tablets -

Zentel Chewable tablets - Consumer Medicines Information leaflets of prescription and over-the-counter medicines

Read more on myDr – Consumer Medicine Information website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo