Diphyllobothriasis in a nine-year-old child in India: a case report

J Med Case Rep. 2011 Jul 29:5:332. doi: 10.1186/1752-1947-5-332.


Introduction: The Diphyllobothrium genus belongs to the Diphyllobothridea order of tapeworms. Diphyllobothrium spp., which is commonly known as fish tapeworm, is generally transmitted in humans, but also in other species, such as bears, dogs, cats, foxes, and other terrestrial carnivores. Although worldwide in distribution, the original heartland of Diphyllobothrium spp. spreads across Scandinavia, northern Russia, and western Serbia. We report a rare case that occurred in India.

Case presentation: A nine-year-old south Indian girl was brought to the casualty at the Prathima Institute of Medical Sciences with complaints of vomiting and loose stools that had started three days earlier. The vomit did not have a foul smell and contained no blood or mucus, but it did contain undigested food particles. The patient described a history of recurrent abdominal pain. She was a non-vegetarian and said she had a history of eating fish.

Conclusion: The incidence of Diphyllobothrium spp. infection is infrequent in India. Since this is only the fourth reported case in India, and since the previously reported cases also involved observed pediatric patients, we emphasize the need for clinical microbiologists and pediatricians to suspect fish tapeworm infection and recommend epidemiological study of Diphyllobothrium spp. infection.