Dipylidiasis

Updated: Nov 25, 2015
  • Author: Venkat R Minnaganti, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Overview

Background

Dipylidiasis is a common tapeworm infection of dogs and cats caused by Dipylidium caninum. Linnaeus first described dipylidiasis in humans in 1758.

Dipylidiasis has a worldwide distribution. Humans become infected by accidental ingestion of dog or cat fleas that contain D caninum cysticercoids (larva). The risk of infection to humans is low.

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Pathophysiology

Dipylidiasis in humans occurs through accidental ingestion of the dog or cat flea or the dog louse infected with cysticercoids (the larval form of D caninum). These fleas and lice are the intermediate host for D caninum.

Cysticercoids develop into adult worms in the small intestine of the host in about 20 days. The adult worm may attain a length of 10-70 cm and is 2-3 mm in diameter. The worms have a lifespan of less than 1 year.

Pathological changes due to dipylidiasis have not been described.

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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

A few cases of dipylidiasis have been reported in the United States, but the exact incidence is not known.

International

Dipylidiasis is distributed worldwide, and human infection has been reported in Africa, Argentina, Australia, Chile, China, Europe, Guatemala, India, Japan, and the Philippines.

Race

Dipylidiasis does not appear to have a racial predilection.

Sex

Males and females are equally susceptible to dipylidiasis.

Age

Dipylidiasis is most common in infants and in children younger than 8 years. Dipylidiasis has been reported in a 5-week-old infant. [1]

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