Larvae of the tapeworm Taenia hydatigena causes liver tapeworm cysts.
The tapeworm needs two hosts: a carnivore (eg. a wolf or lynx) and a herbivore (e.g. caribou). The tapeworm grows and lays eggs in the intestines of the carnivore. Eggs come out in the carnivore’s droppings and contaminate plants that are eaten by the herbivore. The eggs hatch into larvae that travel to the herbivores liver where they form cysts. Carnivores become infected when they eat liver containing cysts.
In the NWT, Taenia hydatigena commonly occurs in caribou and moose.
Liver tapeworm cyst embedded in liver of a caribou.
(inset is an isolated liver tapeworm cyst)
What are the signs of liver tapeworm cysts?
Animals will probably appear healthy.
In the herbivore host, the larvae form large cysts attached to the liver or the lining of the body cavity.
There also may be white, star-like scars on the surface of the liver.
How can I protect myself?
You cannot be infected by the cysts of Taenia hydatigena.
Cysts can easily be removed from the liver during butchering.
Can I eat the meat?
Meat from infected animals is suitable for human consumption.
Cooking will kill the parasite.
Dogs can be infected with tapeworms if they eat the liver cysts.
Do not feed infected parts to dogs.
Samples to collect
Cysts or affected liver tissue.
Updated: November 20, 2012