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Raillientina species

Tapeworms in poultry are yellow-to-white, flat, segmented worms. Unlike most other parasites, they are highly variable in shape.
They contract, expand, or fall apart. Tapeworms are like rubber bands, whose length and width can stretch and shrink. The complete
tapeworm consists of a "head" or scolex, the neck and a "body" or strobila. Behind the head is a short neck, which in fact is the growth
zone from which the new segments or proglottids are formed. Each segment contains a complete reproduction system with ovaries and

Tapeworms lack both a mouth and a digestive tract. The food prepared? By the host is absorbed through the body surface. Large
tapeworms persist for life in their host if they are not expelled by treatment.

Scientific name: Raillietina cesticillus, R. echinobothrida, R. tetragona, R. demerariensis, R. asiatica, R. celebensis

Common name: small to medium-sized poultry tapeworm
Final host: domesticated fowl, chickens, turkeys, pigeons, guinea fowl
Intermediate host: Ants and Musca domestica (R. tetragona and R. echidnobothrida). The beetle acts as IH for R. cesticillus
Localization: small intestine
Frequency: ++
Pathogenesis: +
Distribution: cosmopolitan

Causes of Raillietina
Fifty percent of the intestinal tracts of chickens may contain tapeworms (cestodes) if they are reared on range or in backyard flocks. In
contrast, birds confined within poultry houses seldom become infected. Tapeworm infestations are now considered rare in intensive
poultry-rearing regions. Over 1400 species of tapeworm have been identified in wild and domestic birds. Of these, three families are
10 genera, including Raillietina species affect poultry.

Life cycle of the large tapeworm R. cesticillus

• egg
• oncosphere
• cysticercoid ( infective stage )
• adult

Adult R. cesticillus tapeworms are found in the intestines only. They cling to the lining of the intestine with their suction cups and
hooks, which are located on the head. The segments are formed behind the head in the growth zone of the neck. As they reach the
posterior end of the tapeworm, the segments are filled with eggs and drop off. Passing out of the host with the feces, the eggs in the
segments are not infective for poultry.

The gravid segments are ingested by various beetles and houseflies. In these intermediate hosts the eggs develop into cysticercoid,
which takes at least 18 days at 25-30°C. At lower temperatures this stage takes 3-4 weeks. Single infected beetles can carry up to
1,000 cysticercoids. Poultry acquire the infection by capturing and eating the infected beetles or houseflies. The cysticercoids mature
to adult tapeworms in 11-13 days after infection.

Mode of transmission
Birds become infected by eating an intermediate host, which transmits a larval stage of the tapeworm to the intestine of the definitive
host. The intermediate host may be an insect, crustacean, earthworm, slug, snail or leech depending upon the species of tapeworm.
Some larger tapeworms may appear to completely block the intestine of infected birds. Different species vary considerably in
pathogenecity so identification as to species is desired.

The large tapeworms are less pathogenic than the small Davainea species. They do not cause severe pathology but instead live in the
intestines and compete with the host for the nutrients in ingested feed. The symptoms are non-specific, such as weakness,
unthriftiness, poor growth and diarrhea. The lesions are seen in the points of attachment to the intestine. Inflammation and
degeneration of the villi occur but only severe infections can bring about marked clinical effect. Such infections can cause caseous
nodules in the intestinal wall at the site of attachment.

Some large tapeworms may appear to completely block the intestine of infected birds. Different species vary considerably in
pathogenecity so identification as to species is desired.

1. nodule formation in the intestine by R. echidnobothrida
2. enteritis by R. tetragona and R. cesticillus
Diagnosis of Raillietina
Most species of worm appear during postmortem examination of the digestive tract. Acute identification is necessary for effective
control. A portion of the worm should be removed and viewed under a microscope for detailed identification.

Prevention and treatment

Eliminating the intermediate host (beetles and houseflies) from the environment disrupts the life cycle of the large tapeworm.

Chickens and turkeys can be dewormed with flubendazole 60 ppm mixed into the feed for 7 days. When repeated treatment is
required, the interval between treatments should be reduced to 18 days.

Most cestodes are usually host specific for a single or a few closely related birds. Identification of the genus and species may provide a
clue to the probable intermediate host. The diagnositician may then be able to suggest practical control measures.

Completion of a two-host life cycle depends upon a unique set of ecologic conditions. Thus minor changes in flock management may
cause a break in the life cycle and affect a useful control measure.

Antihelminthic drugs are not recommended as they are only a short-term remedy. The intermediate host should be identified and

Raillietina species and morphology

R. cesticillus R. echidnobothrida R. tetragona
1. smaller (4-15 cm) than R. tetragona, R. 1. size is 8.5-22 cm 1. 25 cm long and largest tapeworm in
echidnobothrida 2. suckers are circular and surrounded by poultry
2. broad rostellum which is armed with several rows of hooks 2. rostellum is small and possesses one or
400-500 hooks 3. rostellum is very small two rows of hooks
3. circular sucker is unarmed 4. egg capsule contains multiple eggs 3. egg capsule contains multiple eggs
4. egg capsule contains single egg 4. sucker is oval and surrounded by
several rows of hooks

Don Velasquez
Mitchee Rose Salgado