Volume 73, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


taeniasis/cysticercosis is one of few potentially eradicable infectious diseases and is the target of control programs in several countries. The larval stage of this zoonotic cestode invades the human brain and is responsible for most cases of adult-onset epilepsy in the world. The pig is the natural intermediate host, harboring the larvae or cysticerci. Our current understanding of the life cycle implicates humans as the only definitive host and tapeworm carrier (developing taeniasis) and thus the sole source of infective eggs that are responsible for cysticercosis in both human and pigs through oral-fecal transmission. Here we show evidence of an alternative pig-to-pig route of transmission, previously not suspected to exist. In a series of four experiments, naive sentinel pigs were exposed to pigs that had been infected orally with tapeworm segments (containing infective eggs) and moved to a clean environment. Consistently in all four experiments, at least one of the sentinel pigs became seropositive or infected with parasite cysts with much lower cyst burdens than did primarily infected animals. Second-hand transmission of eggs could explain the overdispersed pattern of porcine cysticercosis, with few pigs harboring heavy parasite burdens and many more harboring small numbers of parasites. This route of transmission opens new avenues for consideration with respect to control strategies.


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  • Received : 14 Dec 2004
  • Accepted : 11 Mar 2005
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