Hymenolepiasis

Hymenolepiasis: Description, Causes and Risk Factors: HymenolepiasisIllness produced by infection with tapeworms of the genus Hymenolepis. Hymenolepiasis is infestation by one of two species of tapeworm: Hymenolepiasis nana or Hymenolepis diminuta. ICD-9-CM: 123.6. Alternative Names: Rat tapeworm, dwarf tapeworm infection, and Tapeworm - infection. The dwarf tapeworm or Hymenolepis nana is the most common tapeworm infection diagnosed throughout the world. Infection is more common in children, in persons living in institutional settings, and in people who live in areas where sanitation and personal hygiene is inadequate. 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. Hymenolepiasis 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. You can get infected by accidentally ingesting tapeworm eggs. This can happen by ingesting faecally contaminated foods and water, by touching your mouth with contaminated fingers, or by ingesting contaminated soil. Adult tapeworms are very small in comparison with other tapeworms and may reach 15-40 mm (up to 2 inches) in length. The adult tapeworm is made up of many small segments, called proglottids. As the tapeworm matures inside the intestines, these segments break off and pass into the stool. An adult tapeworm can live for 4-6 weeks. However, once you are infected, the dwarf tapeworm may cause auto infection (the tapeworm may reproduce inside the body) and continue the infection. Symptoms: Symptoms occur only with heavy infections. Symptoms include: Gastrointestinal discomfort. Diagnosis: Diagnosis is made by identifying tapeworm eggs in stool. Your health care provider will ask you to submit stool specimens collected over several days to see if you are infected. Treatment: Treatment is available. A prescription drug called praziquantel is given. The medication causes the tapeworm to dissolve within the intestines. Praziquantel is generally well tolerated. Sometimes more than one treatment is necessary. Preventive measures: Good hygiene, public health and sanitation programs, and elimination of rats help prevent the spread of hymenolepiasis.
  • Wash hands with soap and water after using the toilet, and before handling food.
  • If you work in a childcare center where you change nappies (diapers), be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with plenty of soap and warm water after every diaper change, even if you wear gloves.
  • When travelling in countries where food is likely to be contaminated, wash, peel or cook all raw vegetables and fruits with safe water before eating.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.  

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