Definition: An intestinal parasitic worm, adults of which are found in the intestine of vertebrates; the term is commonly restricted to members of the class Cestoidea. Tapeworms consist of a scolex, variously equipped with spined or sucking structures by which the worm is attached to the intestinal wall of the host, and strobila having several to many proglottids that lack a digestive tract at any stage of development. The ovum, entering the intestine of an appropriate intermediate host, hatches and the hexacanth penetrates the gut wall and develops into a specific larval form (cysticercoid, cysticercus, hydatid, strobilocercus), which develops into an adult when the intermediate host is ingested by the proper final host. A three-host cycle with a swimming coracidium, procercoid and plerocercoid (sparganum) larva, and adult intestinal worm is found in aquatic life cycles, as in Diphyllobothrium latum (broad fish tapeworm) and other pseudophyllid cestodes. Other important species of tapeworm are Echinococcus granulosus (hydatid tapeworm), Hymenolepis nana or H. nana var. fraterna (dwarf or dwarf mouse tapeworm), Taenia saginata (beef, hookless, or unarmed tapeworm), T. solium (armed, pork, or solitary tapeworm), and Thysanosoma actinoides (fringed tapeworm of sheep).
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