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Flatworms

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Unwanted Company
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Unwanted Company

A tapeworm in a human intestine. You can consider yourself lucky if the tapeworms stay in your intestine!

Student Exploration

Where Did That Come From?

You are walking along the road with a friend when suddenly he falls to the ground and starts shaking. He is having an epileptic seizure. Seizures are caused by the brain, that finely tuned organ we rely on so much, sending out electrical signals seemingly at random - these are called misfires. There are many conditions which can cause epileptic seizures, but perhaps the most unsettling are the seizures caused because a pork tapeworm has taken up residence in your brain!

Here you can learn more about the creepy critters and see the damage they can do.

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What are the two primary hosts for the pork tapeworm? How does it move between the two?
  2. How can humans pick up pork tapeworms? What is the easiest way to prevent this from happpening?
  3. How do these tapeworms defend themselves from the immune system of their host? What happens when the tapeworm dies?
  4. During which stage in the tapeworm's life cycle does it enter the brain?
  5. What is substance P? What kind of molecule is it? What role does it play in causing seizures? How may this information lead to treatment for people infected with pork tapeworms?

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