Dipylidium caninum, also called the flea tapeworm and shape of its cucumber-seed-like proglottids. Dipylidium caninum is a tapeworm that commonly infects dogs and cats. Transmitted by ingestion of an infected flea, D. caninum occasionally affects humans, especially children. D. caninum, therefore, is a serious concern for pet owners and parents
Symptoms of Dipylidium Infection
A human infection with D. caninum is rare, but if an infection does occur, it is more likely to occur in young children. Only 16 cases have been reported of D. caninum infections in humans within the last 20 years, and almost all of the cases were found in children. Young children and toddlers are at a greater risk of infection because of how they interact with their pets. A human may attain an infection by accidentally ingesting an infected flea through food contamination or through the saliva of pets. Most infections are asymptomatic, but sometimes these symptoms may be identified in an infected individual: mild diarrhea, abdominal colic, anorexia, restlessness, constipation, rectal itching, and pain due to emerging proglottids through the anal cavity.
Treatment and drugs
Praziquantel, adults, 5-10 mg/kg orally in a single-dose therapy. Praziquantel is not approved for treatment of children less than 4 years old but this drug has been used successfully to treat cases of D. caninum infection in children as young as 6 months. Niclosamide is effective but is unvailable in the United States. No purge or follow-up stool examination is indicated, but appearance of proglottids after therapy is indication for retreatment. The infection is self-limiting in the human host and typically spontaneously clears by 6 weeks.