Hymenolepiasis is a condition that is caused by a tapeworm infection, specifically the tapeworm called Hyenolepsis nana. These tapeworms live in warm climates, so they are mostly found in the tropics and subtropical countries. They can also be found in the southern region of the United States. Ways that you can prevent infection with this tapeworm include having good hygiene and eliminating rats from your environment as much as possible.
Individuals can develop hymenolepiasis and get infected when they eat material that is contaminated with bugs, especially fleas that are found on rats. This is because insects eat the tapeworm eggs, so if you eat contaminated insects, the tapeworms can get inside your body. The tapeworms can also reproduce within the body, so hymenolepiasis infections may last up to several years.
In most cases, individuals with hymenolepiasis will not show any symptoms. In extreme cases, there are several symptoms that may appear. These include diarrhea, stomach pain, being nauseous, not being hungry, and having overall weakness. Doctors can diagnose hymenolepiasis by looking at individuals’ stools. If they find the tapeworm eggs, then you have the infection. The infection can be treated using a medicine called praziquantel. If treated properly, individuals can expect to fully recover from the infection. Family members should also be tested, since it is easy for hymenolepiasis to spread between people.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with hymenolepiasis, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options. Support groups are also good resources of support and information.
Description Last Updated: Feb 25, 2018