The Internet is currently buzzing with a remarkable video clip that has gained more than a whopping 24 million views. Captured in the lens of celebrated wildlife documentarian Mark Bouldoukian, widely recognized on TikTok as @markian.b, this video offers an astonishingly vivid encounter between the photographer himself and a brown bear. Furthermore, what attracts the viewer’s attention are the apparent lengthy white ropes connected to the bear’s posterior. However, on closer inspection, these ‘ropes’ are, in reality, tapeworms. The content creator for the viral video stated that the size of tapeworms inside a bear can measure up to an unbelievable length of 30 feet or even longer – a measurement he had never encountered in his career till date.
For those unaware, tapeworms are parasitic creatures that have a flat, ribbon-like appearance, usually displaying a dull white colour. Their bodies are characterized by segments which have no internal divisions, varying in length from a few millimeters to multiple meters. Renowned as strobili, the entire tapeworm is categorized into three segments, namely the head or scolex, neck and segments or proglottid. Every segment is a host to both male and female reproductive organs. The adult tapeworms make their home in the intestines of mammals which also includes Homo Sapiens.
This video brought about a surprising blend of shock and curiosity amongst its viewers, providing an upfront, raw look into the wild and the life cycle of parasites, as reported by Sanook.
However, that’s not where tapeworms concluded their saga in recent times. Another incident involved a 67-year-old Thai man who was suffering from continuous abdominal discomfort and severe flatulence. The reason, as discovered later, was a tapeworm as long as 18 meters – possibly the longest tapeworm found in Thailand in the past 50 years. Upon visiting a doctor in the Isaan province Nong Khai, which shares its border with Laos, he was asked to provide a stool sample.
The lab results unveiled that there were 28 eggs in the provided sample. A deworming medication was immediately administered. To everyone’s surprise, by the very next morning, the monstrous parasite was making its way out of his rectum. This tapeworm, scientifically referred to as Taenia Saginata, is also known as the “beef tapeworm.” It is mostly transmitted to human beings when they consume raw beef which contains tapeworm eggs. Schawanya Rattanapitoon, the head of the Parasitic Disease Research Centre in Nakhon Ratchasima where the man’s stool sample was analysed, verified this fact.