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Alternative Names Return to topDwarf tapeworm infection; Rat tapeworm; Tapeworm - infection
Definition Return to top
Hymenolepiasis is infestation by one of two species of tapeworm: Hymenolepis nana or Hymenolepis diminuta.
Causes Return to top
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 Return to top
Symptoms occur only with heavy infections. Symptoms include:
Exams and Tests Return to top
Examination of the stool for eggs and parasites confirms the diagnosis.
Treatment Return to top
Praziquantel as a single dose is the current treatment of choice for this condition.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Expect full recovery following treatment.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if chronic diarrhea or abdominal cramping are present.
Prevention Return to top
Good hygiene, public health and sanitation programs, and elimination of rats help prevent the spread of hymenolepiasis.Update Date: 8/16/2007 Updated by: Arnold L. Lentnek, MD, Division of Infectious Disease, Kennestone Hospital, Marietta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.