Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

Taenia multiceps

Synonym(s): T. multiceps

Contributor(s): Dwight Bowman




  • Class: Cestoda.
  • Family: Taeniidae.
  • Genus: Taenia.

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Clinical Effects



  • Adult tapeworm in small intestine of rural dogs that are fed sheep heads or scavenge sheep, and in other Canidae.
  • Segments and eggs in environment.
  • Metacestode (coenurus) in CNS of sheep, goats and occasionally cattle (and man), and in the intramuscular and subcutaneous tissues of goats.


  • See lifecycle diagram Lifecycle Taenia hydatigena - diagram :
    • Adult tapeworm.
    • Gravid proglottid.
    • Egg.
    • Metacestode (cysticercus).


Transmission to sheep
  • Segments migrate out of anus and fall to the ground Taenia spp segment migrating spontaneously from the anus.
  • Segments passed in feces migrate out onto grass or soil.
  • As segments migrate they leave a trail of thousands of eggs in a gelatinous film over the surface of grass, etc.
  • Eggs left by segments on feces can be eaten by flies and deposited over pasture.
  • Eggs eaten with herbage by sheep, goats or other animals.
Transmission to dog
  • Metacestode (coenurus) in brain (muscles) of sheep Taenia multiceps metacestode (coenurus) in the brain of a sheep /goat eaten when the dog is scavenging or fed sheep heads.

Pathological effects

  • Protective immunity after 2-3 infections in dogs has been described.
  • No information is available concerning protective immunity in sheep, but sheep generally become infected in their first year of life.

In dogs

  • The presence of tapeworms (1 or many) usually has little effect on the health of a well-fed dog, burdens are usually only 1-13 tapeworms.
  • Irritation of a segment spontaneously migrating from the anus can cause 'scooting'.
  • Very large numbers of worms in young, poorly-nourished dogs could reduce growth rates Tapeworm in a dogs intestine.
  • Very rarely, obstruction of the intestine from many hundreds of worms can occur.

In sheep, goats, cattle

  • Oncospheres migrating in relatively large numbers in the central nervous system (CNS) of sheep or goats induce inflammation and 'acute' neurological disease 2-3 weeks after infection.
  • The majority of cysts grow and cause pressure atrophy in the cerebral hemispheres or elsewhere in the CNS parenchyma; this induces 'chronic' disease of circling, papilledema, blindness, abnormal gait, hyperesthesia, etc.
  • In goats, but not sheep, the coenurus can develop, presenting as a mass, in the intramuscular and subcutaneous tissues.

In man

  • The coenurus grows primarily in the subarachnoid spaces, cisterns and ventricular spaces, interfering with cerebrospinal fluid pathways.


Control via animal

  • Anthelmintic treatment of dog.
  • Dogs should be well-fed and prevented from scavenging, and should not be fed raw sheep heads.

Control via chemotherapies

  • Anthelmintics have not been approved specifically for efficacy against T. multiceps.
  • Drugs with efficacy against Taenia pisiformis should be used.



  • Drugs to be used include praziquantel Praziquantel , epsiprantel, fenbendazole Fenbendazole.
    Dichlorphenamide is not recommended.

Other countermeasures

Disease due to T. multiceps seems to decline rapidly and disappear on institution of an anthelmintic treatment control programme (treatment every 6 weeks with praziquantel) aimed at eradicating Echinococcus granulosus Echinococcus granulosus


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Cabrera P A, Parietti S, Haran G et al (1996) Rates of reinfection with Echinococcus granulosus, Taenia hydatigena, Taenia ovis and other cestodes in a rural dog population in Uruguay. Intern J Parasitol 26 (1), 79-83 PubMed.
  • Lloyd S, Martin S C, Walters T M et al (1991) Use of sentinel lambs for early monitoring of the South Powys Hydatidosis Control Scheme - prevalence of Echinococcus granulosus and some other helminths. Vet Rec 129 (4), 73-76 PubMed.