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Dioctophymiasis

[Dioctophyme renale]

Cross-sections of larvae of D. renale in a subcutaneous nodule, stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E). Images courtesy of the Laboratory of Parasitology, National Public Health Research Center in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Cross-sections of larvae of D. renale in a subcutaneous nodule, stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E). Images courtesy of the Laboratory of Parasitology, National Public Health Research Center in Vilnius, Lithuania


Higher-magnification of cross-sections of larvae of D. renale in a subcutaneous nodule, stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E), showing a close-up of the characteristic intestine, with cuboidal, uninucleate cells, pigment, and microvilli.

Higher-magnification of cross-sections of larvae of D. renale in a subcutaneous nodule, stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E), showing a close-up of the characteristic intestine, with cuboidal, uninucleate cells, pigment, and microvilli.

Causal Agents

Dioctophyme renale, the giant kidney worm.


Life Cycle

Life cycle of Dioctophyme renales

Carnivores, including canids, mustelids and felids, serve as the usual definitive hosts for Dioctophyme renale. However, other mammals, including herbivores and humans, can become infected. Unembryonated eggs are shed in the urine of the definitive host the number 1 and L1 larvae develop inside the egg after about a month in waterthe number 2. After being eaten by the invertebrate intermediate host (usually annelids, including earthworms), the eggs hatch in the digestive tract and mature into L3 larvae after two molts (usually 2-3 months at 20-30°C). If the intermediate host is eaten by a paratenic host (including fish and amphibians), the L3 larvae encyst and do not develop any further the number 4. The definitive host then becomes infected after eating a paratenic host housing encysted L3 larvae the number 5. Definitive hosts may also become infected after directly consuming infected invertebrate intermediate hoststhe number 6. After being ingested by the definitive host, the infective larvae migrate through the gastric wall to the liver, and eventually to the kidney. Worms become adults roughly six months after infecting the definitive host. Humans may also become infected after eating undercooked paratenic hoststhe number 7 . Although humans may serve as definitive hosts, often the larvae wind up in subcutaneous nodules and do not develop any further.

Geographic Distribution

Worldwide.

Clinical Presentation

Most of the earlier reports of dioctophymiasis in humans involved the finding of eggs or adult worms in urine. There is one report of a worm rupturing through the body wall (fistula) from an abscessed kidney. There are also a few more recent reports of L3 larvae being found in migratory, subcutaneous nodules.

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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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