Sparganosis

Cause

Sparganum mansoni, a tapeworm.

Description

Dogs and cats are the primary hosts of the adult worm. The first intermediate hosts are freshwater crustaceans. The second intermediate hosts are amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. People are considered to be accidental intermediate hosts.

Where the disease occurs

Sparganosis is found throughout the world, but human infection is not common. It can occur in Queensland.

How people can get the disease

People acquire sparganosis mainly by ingesting larvae contained in raw or undercooked animal meat infected with spargana, such as amphibians, reptiles, birds, pigs and other wild mammals. People who drink contaminated water are also at risk.

Sparganosis occurs when larvae migrate to subcutaneous tissue or muscle. The larvae then form painful, inflammatory nodules which may be itchy. The nodules cause tissue swelling and destruction. These nodules can form anywhere in the body. Other sites, including the brain, may be involved but much less commonly.

Treatment for people

There are no specific treatments but the spargana may be removed surgically.

Preventing the disease in people
  • Avoid ingestion of contaminated water that has not been treated.
  • Make sure that meat and fish that might contain spargana is properly cooked.

Last updated 27 September 2012