How Can You Differentiate the Various Kinds of Worms?


Quick Answer

In their adult form, flukes, or trematodes, are leaf shaped and possess large ventral and oral suckers that they use to maintain their place in the human body, while roundworms, or nematodes, are cylindrical and bisexual, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Tapeworms, or cestodes, are long, flat, segmented and hermaphroditic in their adult stage and solid, or cystic, in their larval form.

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Tapeworms, roundworms and other worm-like parasites are also known as helminths, notes the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Microbiologists classify the forms possessing clinical significance using the exogenous and endogenous structure of their various development stages. In general, helminths have long, flat or round bodies and develop through egg, larval and adult stages.

Flukes can be as short as a few millimeters or as long as 8 centimeters, according the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Adult flukes are flat, bilaterally symmetrical and possess a well-defined anterior end. With the exception of blood flukes, trematodes are hermaphroditic.

Tapeworms, in a similar fashion to flukes, possess long, flat bodies in their adult form, reports the U.S. National Library of Medicine. However, unlike their trematode counterparts, their bodies, which vary in length from a few millimeters to 10 meters, consist of segments known as proglottids. Tapeworm bodies consist of a head, scolex, a neck and terminal segments with a particularly prominent uterus.

Roundworm bodies have outer walls composed of a cuticle that consists of muscles, a thin outer skin and a chemically complex noncellular structure, details the U.S. National Library of Medicine. In some nematode species, the cuticle has longitudinal ridges known as alae.

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