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Clinical Presentation of Hymenolepis spp. in Humans


Three adult Hymenolepis nana tapeworms, each 15-44mm.

(Image courtesy of Georgia Division of Public Health and the Unites States CDC Parasites Division)

           Symptoms occur only with heavy infections and are most apparent in children.

They include:

Gastrointestinal discomfort
Poor appetite/anorexia
Complications: discomfort and dehydration from prolonged diarrhea


Case Report: from United States

Rat tapeworm, H. diminuta, infection found in a child. Although 200 cases have been reported world-wide, no American medical literature from 1965 to 1990. In 1989, Dr. Hamrick of the Department of Pediatrics at University of North Carolina School of Medicine(HJH) found a 17 month old boy with worm in feces. Treated with one dose of niclosamide, he suffered no further complications. There was no suspected or unusual exposure except corn muffins from commercially available sources. This provides a warning to keep all food products, especially cereals, flour, meal, grains and dried fruits free from contamination by rats, mice and insects.


Hamerick, HJ, Bowdre, JH, and Church, S. (1990) Rat tapeworm(Hymenolepis diminuta) infection in a child. Pediatric Infections Disease Journal 9: 216-219.



Case Report: from Spain, Human Infection with H. diminuta


A five year old girl, was brought to the hospital with an episode of apnea induced by crying, became cyanotic, lost consciousness, experienced stifness of limbs, drowsiness and hypotony, and restless nights. Most tell-tale symptoms were abdominal pain and anal pruritus. Eggs of H. diminuta were found in concentrated stools. After one month treatment with oral metronidazole for pain and tinidazole, followed by by three cycles fo 25 mg praziquantel per kg/day. No further complications were reported.


Tena, D. et al. (1998) Human Infection with Hymenolepis diminuta: Case Report from Spain. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 36: 2375-2376.