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Diseases reference index «Hymenolepiasis»

Hymenolepiasis is infestation by one of two species of tapeworm: Hymenolepis nana or Hymenolepis diminuta.

Causes

Hymenolepis live in warm climates and are common in the southern United States. The eggs of these worms are ingested by insects.

Humans and other animals become infected when they intentionally or unintentionally eat material contaminated by insects. In an infected person, it is possible for the worm's entire life-cycle to be completed in the bowel, so infection can persist for years.

Hymenolepis nana infections are much more common than Hymenolepis diminuta infections in humans. These infections were previously common in the southeastern United States, and have been described in crowded environments and individuals confined to institutions. However, the disease occurs throughout the world.

Symptoms

Symptoms occur only with heavy infections. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Itchy anus
  • Poor appetite
  • Weakness

Exams and Tests

Examination of the stool for eggs confirms the diagnosis.

Treatment

Praziquantel as a single dose is the current treatment of choice for this condition.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Expect full recovery following treatment.

Possible Complications

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Dehydration from prolonged diarrhea

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if chronic diarrhea or abdominal cramping are present.

Prevention

Good hygiene, public health and sanitation programs, and elimination of rats help prevent the spread of hymenolepiasis.

Alternative Names

Dwarf tapeworm infection; Rat tapeworm; Tapeworm - infection

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