Tapeworms are parasites, which survive within another organism (host). Tapeworm infection can occur in cows and pigs, and it can also infect humans. Dogs and cats can also get tapeworms infection after swallowing a parasite-contaminated flea. According to the CDC less than 1,000 new tapeworm infections in humans in the United States each year. A tapeworm test is usually done through the detection of eggs and proglottids via a stool test. Doctors may also order a blood test or imaging exam. As not all tapeworm infections need treatment, your doctor will tell you if treatment is right for you. Both intestinal & invasive tapeworm infections can be treated with medication and only in rare cases, invasive tapeworm infections require surgery. Early treatment may reduce the likelihood of complications such as a digestive blockage.
This article covers all the significant topics related to the tapeworm test such as the test cost, symptoms, causes, complications, and how to get tested for a tapeworm test.
- What is a tapeworm?
- Causes of tapeworm
- Symptoms of tapeworm
- Tapeworm test
- Tapeworm treatment
- Provider locations
For our readers who are interested in knowing the tapeworm test cost beforehand, we begin with that section.
How much does the tapeworm test cost?
Tapeworm test costs range around $79 in different labs and facilities across the US. Prior appointment isn’t required. You can order tests online by comparing the price or visiting the nearest lab during lab business hours. You will get the results in your email in 2 to 3 business days after completing the procedure. Apart from this, doctor consultation is available for any kind of further treatment or medical advice.
The table below shows the tapeworm test provider and their prices. You can know more and book the test by clicking on the “Book Now” button. All the labs are certified and offer a network across the US.
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Tapeworm test cost with insurance
Many insurance companies in the U.S. cover all the vital tests like a tapeworm test. However, the coverage provided by private health insurance companies and national health insurance programs like Medicare varies widely. Most of the health insurance policies cover tapeworm test costs only once or twice a year and when your physician orders more than twice in a year, you should pay the test cost out of pocket. So, you are recommended to check if your health insurance policy covers the tapeworm test cost.
Our tapeworm testing providers do not accept any kind of health insurance policy. However, they can provide you with an itemized receipt containing all the details viz the name of the test, code of the test, and CPT code which is necessary for insurance reimbursement purposes.
Tapeworms are flatworms that can live in the intestines and are shaped like a tape measure. A tapeworm cannot live on its own, it survives within the gut of animals and humans. Humans can get tapeworms after eating the raw or undercooked meat of an infected animal. It includes infected pork, beef, or fish. And people can also become infected when there is contact with animal feces or contaminated water. Usually, many people with infections don’t have symptoms. However, when they have problems from this infection, the symptoms will depend on the type of tapeworm they have and its location.
Causes of tapeworm
Tapeworms have a three-stage lifecycle, the egg, an immature stage (larva), and an adult stage. Many people become infected after ingesting tapeworm larvae or eggs. The infection can occur when you eat raw or undercooked meat from an infected animal because the larvae can get into the muscles of their hosts.
The eggs of the tapeworm can be passed via bowel movements, when a person doesn’t wash hands well after using the restroom and then prepares food can contaminate the food. So, it is also possible to contract pork tapeworms from foods prepared by an infected person.
Additionally, people who work around livestock can get tapeworm through their exposure to animal feces. This occurs when a person handles infected feces and doesn’t wash their hands properly before eating, they can accidentally ingest the tapeworms. Rarely, people can get this infection from human feces. This is common in places without adequate plumbing and sewage disposal.
Symptoms of tapeworm
Many people with tapeworm infection have no symptoms. When symptoms occur, it may include:
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Salt craving
- Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
Tapeworms can also migrate to other body parts and cause organ or tissue damage. This is referred to as an invasive infection. When it occurs, you may have additional symptoms. Few people with an invasive infection may develop:
- Neurological symptoms, including seizures
- Cystic masses or lumps
- Allergic reactions to the larvae
Generally, tapeworms do not cause complications. And when they do cause, the complications depend on whether or not the patient receives treatment and the type of tapeworm.
- Digestive blockage – If tapeworm grows large they block the appendix – leading to appendicitis and bile ducts – which carry bile from the liver and gallbladder to the intestine or the pancreatic duct – which carry digestive fluids from the pancreas to the intestine.
- Organ function disruption – The larvae can migrate to other organs, and they become cysts. And cysts can grow, occasionally large enough to crowd the functioning parts of the organ or reduce its blood supply. At times the cysts rupture, releasing more larvae, that can move to other organs and form additional cysts.
- Neurocysticercosis – It is a complication of pork tapeworm infection and the brain & nervous system are affected. Infected people may have headaches, vision problems, seizures, meningitis, and confusion. And in most severe cases the infection can be fatal.
- Echinococcosis or hydatid disease – The echinococcus (tapeworm) causes echinococcosis. These larvae leave the gut and infect the other organs (most commonly the liver). This infection can cause large cysts and place pressure on blood vessels and can affect circulation. Surgery or liver transplantation is required, in severe cases.
Doctors may do one of the following, to diagnose a tapeworm infection.
- Blood test – Doctors will test the blood for antibodies your body may have produced to fight the infection. And the presence of antibodies indicates tapeworm infection.
- Stool sample analysis – Doctors may check your stool for this testing. The lab will use microscopic identification techniques to identify tapeworm segments or eggs in the feces. They may need to collect 2 to 3 samples over a period to detect the parasite, as the eggs & segments are passed irregularly.
- Imaging exam – X-rays, CT, MRI scans, or ultrasounds of cysts can suggest invasive infection.
Some people with tapeworm infections don’t need treatment. Occasionally, the tapeworm leaves the body (on its own). And few never have symptoms or only have mild symptoms. But when tapeworm does not leave the body, your doctor will recommend a treatment based on the type of infection.
In case of intestinal infection, you need to take oral medication. Antiparasitic drugs are used for treating intestinal infections may include praziquantel (Biltricide), albendazole (Albenza), or nitazoxanide (Alinia). And you will have a follow-up stool sample to ensure the infection has cleared, after completing treatment.
For an invasive infection, the tapeworm forms a cyst or a lump. So, doctors may prescribe an anthelmintic drug to shrink the mass or recommend surgery to remove a large cyst or lump. Additionally, doctors may prescribe a corticosteroid (Prednisone) when inflammation develops in the organs or tissues. And antiseizure medication may also be prescribed when the infection affects the brain or central nervous system, triggering a seizure. As invasive infection can cause fluid buildup in the brain, a shunt placement can be used to drain fluid.
You can reduce your risk of tapeworm infection by following certain preventive measures:
- Make sure to wash your hands with soap and water before eating or handling food and after using the bathroom.
- Cook the meat to temperatures of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit for whole cuts of meat and at least 160 degrees F for ground meat and poultry. Allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before consuming because the heat continues killing pathogens during that time.
- Freeze the meat for 7-10 days and fish for at least 24 hours in a freezer with a temperature of -31 F (-35 C) to kill tapeworm eggs and larvae.
- Avoid consuming raw or undercooked pork, beef, and fish.
- When you are traveling in undeveloped countries or areas where tapeworm is more common, make sure to wash and cook all fruits and vegetables with safe water before eating or boil it for one minute and then let it cool off before using it.
- You can eliminate livestock exposure to the eggs of tapeworm by properly disposing of human and animal feces.
- Ensure all work surfaces are regularly disinfected and cleaned.
- When you have dogs, ensure they are treated for tapeworms. Be sure that your dog only eats cooked meat and fish and take special care with your hygiene.
A tapeworm test can be done in any of the following locations by visiting the lab near you. To know the tapeworm test cost, refer to the first section of the article.
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Frequently Asked Questions
Will insurance cover my testing cost?
No, insurance will not be covered in the billing. However, they will provide you with a receipt for insurance reimbursement purposes.
How should I book my appointment?
You can choose the most suitable provider from above and make an appointment by following the instructions mentioned by them.
Can I cancel my lab test order?
Yes, you can cancel your lab test order any time before your testing. A refund will be initiated after deducting the cancellation fee. However, cancellation is at the discretion of the provider.
Do the providers offer result interpretations?
Yes, a few providers may provide doctor consultation who will take you through the results and provide clarification if needed.
How do I receive my report?
To ensure your privacy, the test report will be mailed to you by the provider.
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