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Dipylidium caninum Infection

[Dipylidium caninum]

D. caninum egg packet, containing 8 visible eggs, in a wet mount.

D. caninum egg packet, containing 8 visible eggs, in a wet mount.

D. caninum proglottid. The genital pores are clearly visible in the carmine-stained proglottid.

D. caninum proglottid. The genital pores are clearly visible in the carmine-stained proglottid.

Causal Agent

Dipylidium caninum (the double-pored dog tapeworm) mainly infects dogs and cats, but is occasionally found in humans.

Life Cycle

Life cycle of Dipylidium caninum

Gravid proglottids are passed intact in the feces or emerge from the perianal region of the host The number 1. Subsequently they release typical egg packets The number 2. On rare occasions, proglottids rupture and egg packets are seen in stool samples. Following ingestion of an egg by the intermediate host (larval stages of the dog or cat flea Ctenocephalides spp.), an oncosphere is released into the flea's intestine. The oncosphere penetrates the intestinal wall, invades the insect's hemocoel (body cavity), and develops into a cysticercoid larva The number 3. The larva develops into an adult, and the adult flea harbours the infective cysticercoid The number 4. The vertebrate host becomes infected by ingesting the adult flea containing the cysticercoid The number 5. The dog is the principal definitive host for Dipylidium caninum. Other potential hosts include cats, foxes, and humans (mostly children) The number 6, The number 7. Humans acquire infection by ingesting the cysticercoid contaminated flea. This can be promulgated by close contact between children and their infected pets. In the small intestine of the vertebrate host the cysticercoid develops into the adult tapeworm which reaches maturity about 1 month after infection The number 8. The adult tapeworms (measuring up to 60 cm in length and 3 mm in width) reside in the small intestine of the host, where they each attach by their scolex. They produce proglottids (or segments) which have two genital pores (hence the name "double-pored" tapeworm). The proglottids mature, become gravid, detach from the tapeworm, and migrate to the anus or are passed in the stool The number 1.

Geographic Distribution

Worldwide. Human infections have been reported in Europe, the Philippines, China, Japan, Argentina, and the United States.

Clinical Presentation

Most infections with Dipylidium caninum are asymptomatic. Pets may exhibit behavior to relieve anal pruritis (such as scraping anal region across grass or carpeting). Mild gastrointestinal disturbances may occur. The most striking feature in animals and children consists of the passage of proglottids. These can be found in the perianal region, in the feces, on diapers, and occasionally on floor covering and furniture. The proglottids are motile when freshly passed and may be mistaken for maggots or fly larvae.

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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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