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Alternative namesFish tapeworm infection
DefinitionDiphyllobothriasis is an infection caused by a fish tapeworm.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
The fish tapeworm, scientifically named
, represents one of the giant tapeworm species. Humans become infected when they eat raw or undercooked fish that contain tape worm larvae (sparganum).
After a person has eaten of infected fish, the larva begin to grow in the intestine. The adult worm, which is segmented, may attain a length of 30 feet. Eggs are formed in each segment (proglottid) of the worm and are passed in the stool. Occasionally, a string of proglottids may be passed in the stool.
The vast majority of infected individuals have no symptoms. Symptoms seen with heavy infections may include:
Signs and tests
TreatmentNiclosamide or praziquantel are given in a single dose to treat the tapeworm infection. Vitamin B-12 injections or supplements may be needed for the treatment of megaloblastic anemia.
Expectations (prognosis)Fish tapeworms can be eradicated with a single treatment dose. There are no lasting effects.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if you have noticed a worm or segments of a worm in the stool. Also call if any family members have symptoms suggestive of pernicious anemia.
PreventionAvoiding raw freshwater fish and cooking fish sufficiently will prevent infection with the fish tapeworm.
Update Date: 11/18/2003D. Scott Smith, MD, MSc, DTM&H, Infectious Diseases Division and Dept. of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University Medical School, Stanford, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT