Taeniasis is an intestinal infection caused by adult tapeworms and acquired by humans through the ingestion of tapeworm larval cysts (cysticerci) in undercooked pork or beef. Once in the human body, cysticerci develop into adult tapeworms that live in the intestine and release egg-bearing gravid proglottids (segments) that are passed out with faeces. Cysticercosis is acquired when proglottids or eggs are ingested with contaminated soil, water or food (mainly vegetables). Cysts that develop in the central nervous system can cause a preventable form of epilepsy called neurocysticercosis. Taenia solium is the cause of 30% of epilepsy cases in many endemic areas where people and roaming pigs live in close proximity.
In the Western Pacific Region, Cambodia, China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines and Viet Nam are known to be endemic with cysticercosis (with full life cycle), and Papua New Guinea is suspected to be endemic. In addition, Australia, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Japan and Singapore have reported imported cases of cysticercosis.