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Bertiella Infection

[Bertiella mucronata] [Bertiella studeri]

 Eggs of Bertiella sp. liberated from gravid proglottids. Image courtesy of the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory, Vilnius, Lithuania.

Eggs of Bertiella sp. liberated from gravid proglottids. Image courtesy of the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory, Vilnius, Lithuania.


Proglottids of Bertiella sp

Proglottids of Bertiella sp.

Causal Agents

Cestodes (tapeworms) in the genus Bertiella. Members of the genus Bertiella are parasites of non-human primates in nature. Most human infections are by B. studeri and B. mucronata and have been in children with some contact or association with non-human primates.


Life Cycle

Life cycle of bertiella

Although the life cycles of Bertiella species are not completely understood, it is generally believed the genus undergoes a two-host life cycle, with an arthropod intermediate host (usually a mite) and a vertebrate definitive host (usually non-human primates for the species implicated in human infection). The two species usually implicated in human infection are B. studeri and B. mucronata. Bertiella studeri, which is an Old World species, usually infects monkeys in the genera Anthropopithecus, Cercopithecus, Cynomologus and Macaca; B. mucronata, a New World species, usually infects monkeys in the genera Callicebus and Alouatta. Higher primates, such as chimpanzees (Pan) have also been infected, often in zoo or pet settings. Eggs and proglottids are passed in the feces of the definitive host The Number 1. Oncospheres are ingested by the arthropod intermediate host The Number 2. This host in nature is believed to be one or several species of oribatid mites. In the arthropod intermediate host, the oncospheres develop into cysticercoids The Number 3. The definitive hosts become infected after ingesting arthropod intermediate hosts The Number 4 infected with cysticercoids. Adults reside in the small intestine of the definitive hostThe Number 5, where they attach to the mucosa with the aid of an unarmed scolex The Number 6. Although rare, humans may also serve as definitive hosts for Bertiella spp., usually after accidentally ingesting infected mites The Number 7. Most human cases of bertiellosis are in patients who had some level of contact with primates.

Geographic Distribution

Bertiella mucronata occurs in South America and Cuba; B. studeri is found in Africa and Asia. Human cases are known from Argentina, Brazil, Borneo, Cuba, Saint Kitts, India, Java, Malaysia, Mauritius, Paraguay, Singapore, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Yemen. Imported cases have been recorded from the United States, Australia and Lithuania.

Clinical Presentation

With so few human cases known, the clinical aspect of this disease is difficult to define. Cases are often asymptomatic; however some patients have experienced abdominal discomfort, anorexia, vomiting, or loose or fatty stools.

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  • Page last reviewed November 29, 2013
  • Page last updated November 29, 2013
  • Content source: Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
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