No patient should ever be treated for tape worm without the positive signs of the presence of the worm are first detected. It generally happens that segments of the worm are broken off and expelled at intervals; but when this does not occur spontaneously, portions may be obtained by giving the patient a mild laxative, as a small dose of castor-oil. The discharges from the bowels should be carefully examined for several days, if segments such as are shown in Figs. 281 and 282 are not discovered sooner. Persons who are well skilled in the use of the microscope may examine the discharges for eggs of the worm, which are always present in great numbers when the worm is present. We must not omit to add here the caution that portions of undigested food, masses of mucus, etc., often resemble worms or portions of worms when cursorily examined. The inspection should be sufficiently careful to avoid such an error as this. Many persons are unnecessarily frightened by appearances of this sort. Although many persons have suffered almost untold miseries under the hands of quacks without having a cure effected, it may be considered as positively demonstrated that the worm can in every case be expelled, provided that proper treatment is applied.

Fig. 281. Segments of Taenia Solium, of natural size.

Fig. 281. Segments of Taenia Solium, of natural size.

Fig. 282. Sections of Taenia Saginata.

Fig. 282. Sections of Taenia Saginata.

Preparatory Treatment for Tape-Worm Infection

This occupies two days, Give the patient only such food as will not produce much residue, as white bread, meat, beef tea, and milk. Graham bread, oatmeal, cracked wheat, vegetables of all kinds, fruits,-especially seedy fruits, and eggs, should be wholly avoided. The patient should drink several glasses of cold water within an hour before each meal, and should apply fomentations and percussions to the abdomen for the purpose of causing the bowels to become as loose as possible. Large hot enemas should also be used twice a day. The second day, the patient may eat freely of onions for the purpose of sickening the worm. Some recommend salt herring for the same purpose, to be eaten with onions.

Curative Treatment for Tape-Worm Infection

The third morning after beginning treatment let the patient take for breakfast a little milk or bran coffee and dry white bread toast. Some recommend that the patient shall fast; but it is better to allow a small quantity of food, as the tendency to vomit is less. The most effective medicine is koosso. This kills the worm; and after it has acted, the dead worm must be expelled by means of a dose of castor-oil. The quantity of koosso necessary to kill the worm is five to seven drams for an adult. It should be given in small capsules, or may be taken in decoction, the whole being drunk. For children, the dose should be proportionately smaller. Two hours after the koosso has been taken, administer two tablespoonfuls of castor-oil. Male fern, pomegranate root, kameela, and turpentine are also used for the cure of tape-worm, and with success. The seeds of the common pumpkin have also been successfully used for the same purpose. Bruise two ounces of pumpkin seeds in a mortar with a little water. Add enough water to make up to a half pint.

Strain through a coarse cloth. This is for one dosa Repeat daily for several days in succession; This remedy has the advantage of being perfectly harmless, if it does not destroy the worm.

It should be remarked that many people imagine themselves to be the possessors of tape-worms when they are wholly free from anything of the sort. It not infrequently happens, also, that the general symptoms of the disease continue for a time after the worm is expelled. In order to assure patients with confidence that a cure has been effected, it is necessary to examine the discharges from the bowels with great care so as to find the head of the worm, which may be distinguished by its form, as seen in Fig. 283. On account of its small size it should be sought with great care. If the head is not expelled, the worm will be likely to grow again.

Fig. 283. Head of Tape worm.

Fig. 283. Head of Tape worm.

Prevention of Tape-Worm Infection

The only sure means of prevention is the entire avoidance of the use of meat. It has been supposed that the principal source of infection is the use of raw pork; but the observations of Dr. Leidy of Philadelphia, and the eminent Prof. Cobbold of England, have shown very clearly that the most common source of infection is raw beef. Neither salting nor smoking will destroy the embryonic parasites. They will resist the action of both cold and heat in an extraordinary degree. They are only destroyed by a temperature exceeding 160 F., and require exposure for some little time. This necessitates that meat should be thoroughly cooked in order to secure immunity from infection with these loathsome parasites.