Tapeworms (Anoplocephala perfoliata)
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Scientific name: Anoplocephala perfoliata Common name: Tapeworms Physical description of parasite: Tapeworms have flattened, segmented bodies. The "head" is circular in shape and armed with four suckers. Some tapeworm species can be as long as 80 cm (32 inches). Stages/lifecycles: Eggs develop in the intermediate host, the oribatid "grass" mite, over a two to four month period. When the infected mites are swallowed, the tapeworms mature within the horse in four to six weeks. How the parasite enters the horse's system: Horse ingests infected mites. Effects of parasite if left untreated: A severe case of tapeworm infestation can cause intestinal irritation, which can lead to inflammation, bleeding, and/or ulcers of the intestine. Fatal intestinal blockage can occur as the worms accumulate at the ileocecal junction - three-way junction between small intestine, large intestine, and cecum (the horse's very large version of our tiny appendix). Control Note: Currently there are no dewormers sold in the United States labeled for tapeworm control. However, some clinical trials have demonstrated varying effectiveness using pyrantel pamoate dewormers. Consult your veterinarian for help with tapeworm treatment and control.