Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology IAMM  | About us |  Subscription |  e-Alerts  | Feedback |  Login   
  Print this page Email this page   Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
 Home | Ahead of Print | Current Issue | Archives | Search | Instructions  
Users Online: 1242 Official Publication of Indian Association of Medical Microbiologists 
 ~ Next article
 ~ Previous article 
 ~ Table of Contents
 ~  Similar in PUBMED
 ~  Search Pubmed for
 ~  Search in Google Scholar for
 ~Related articles
 ~  Article in PDF (107 KB)
 ~  Citation Manager
 ~  Access Statistics
 ~  Reader Comments
 ~  Email Alert *
 ~  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

 ~  Abstract
 ~  Case Report
 ~  Discussion
 ~  Acknowledgement
 ~  References
 ~  Article Figures

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded255    
    Comments [Add]    
    Cited by others 3    

Recommend this journal


Year : 2007  |  Volume : 25  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 152-154

A rare case of diphyllobothriasis from pondicherry, South India

1 Departments of Clinical Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry - 605 014, India
2 Departments of Pathology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry - 605 014, India

Correspondence Address:
R Kanungo
Departments of Clinical Microbiology, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry - 605 014
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0255-0857.32725

Rights and Permissions

 ~ Abstract 

Diphyllobothriasis is an intestinal parasitic infection caused by the ingestion of raw fresh-water fish containing the infectious larvae of Diphyllobothrium spp. This infection is uncommon in India. We report a case of diphyllobothriasis that occurred in Pondicherry, India, in a 5-year-old boy hailing from a fishing community. He attended the Pediatric OPD with spontaneous discharge of segments of the adult parasite. The segments (macroscopically and microscopically) were identified as those of Diphyllobothrium latum . The stool examination also revealed characteristic oval eggs.

Keywords: Child, D. latum, Diphyllobothriasis

How to cite this article:
Sheela Devi C, Shashikala, Srinivasan S, Murmu U C, Barman P, Kanungo R. A rare case of diphyllobothriasis from pondicherry, South India. Indian J Med Microbiol 2007;25:152-4

How to cite this URL:
Sheela Devi C, Shashikala, Srinivasan S, Murmu U C, Barman P, Kanungo R. A rare case of diphyllobothriasis from pondicherry, South India. Indian J Med Microbiol [serial online] 2007 [cited 2021 Jan 27];25:152-4. Available from:

Diphyllobothriasis is an intestinal parasitic infection caused by the ingestion of raw or partially cooked fish containing the larvae of Diphyllobothrium spp. Four recognized species are known to infect humans - Diphyllobothrium latum, D. pacificum, D. klebnoviskii and D. nihonkaiense. [1] Diphyllobothrium latum is most commonly associated with human infections. Many species are also known to infect fish-eating birds, dogs, foxes and bears. [2] Human diphyllobothriasis has been reported from Europe, [1] Korea, [3],[4] Japan, [5] Malaysia, [6] Peru, Chile, Argentina, [2] Brazil, [7] etc. The first case of diphyllobothriasis from India was reported in 1998 from Vellore, South India. [8]

 ~ Case Report Top

A 5-year-old boy reported to the pediatric clinic of Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Pondicherry, in November 2005 with a history of spontaneous discharge of light-colored segments in stool. He also gave history of similar episodes over the last one year. Every episode of passage of segments was accompanied by abdominal pain. There was no history of diarrhoea, vomiting or pica. He was a non-vegetarian with unremarkable dietary habits. He belonged to a fishing community; therefore, handling of raw fish was an obvious risk factor. His hematological examination revealed hemoglobin of 10.4 gm/dL, PCV - 32.0%, RBC count - 4.47/cu. mm, MCV - 72 fl, MCH - 23.2 pg. Total leukocyte count was 8,200/cu. mm and total eosinophil count was 16%. Peripheral blood smear examination revealed microcytic hypochromic anemia with moderate eosinophilia.

The piece of worm passed by the boy was creamy white in color and measuring 5 cm in length and 1.5 cm in breadth [Figure - 1]. Each segment was broader (15 mm) than longer (3 mm). There was no identifiable scolex. Histopathological examination of the adult worm revealed gravid segments filled with characteristic oval operculated eggs [Figure - 2]. Stool examination by formol ether sedimentation technique revealed characteristic oval eggs measuring 70 45 m. The egg was operculated with a knob on the opposite side [Figure - 3]. Based on the macroscopic and microscopic features of the segments and the morphological characteristics of the egg, Diphyllobothrium latum was identified. The patient was treated with praziquantel 400 mg single dose.

 ~ Discussion Top

The life cycle of D. latum is complex, with two intermediate hosts. The plerocercoid larvae, the infective form for humans, dogs and other fish-eating animals, are present in the second intermediate host. This plerocercoid larvae of Diphyllobothrium spp. have been demonstrated in domestic salmon, cherry salmon, red-lip mullet, pike, perch, rainbow trout, lake trout, burbot, [1],[4],[5] etc. Reports of diphyllobothriasis after the ingestion of food with raw domestic salmon fish [4] ; red-lip mullet [3] ; shushimi, a Japanese raw fish; and sushi [6] have been documented.

Diphyllobothriasis is not associated with specific symptoms. General complaints of nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain or discomfort may be reported by some patients. Most infections manifest with eosinophilia. Prolonged or heavy D. latum infections may cause megaloblastic anemia due to parasite-mediated dissociation of vitamin B 12 intrinsic factor complex within the gut lumen, making B 12 unavailable to the host. [9] The present case had only non-specific symptoms. Eosinophilia was marked with a differential count of 16%. Peripheral blood smear examination of the patient did not reveal megaloblastic anemia, which is commonly associated with this infection. Case reports of non-specific symptoms without megaloblastic anemia have been documented. [3],[4],[5] A survey conducted in Brazil [7] in 2004 found that abdominal discomfort and intermittent diarrhea were the commonest symptoms, while some cases were asymptomatic. Parasite was eliminated in 22% of these cases.

Diphyllobothriasis is diagnosed by examining gravid segments in addition to microscopic examination of stool for characteristic eggs. Macroscopically, the segment is broader than longer. Microscopic examination of the segment shows the uteri forming a rosette. The sagittal section of the adult worm in scanning electron microscope generally shows a cirrhus sac lying horizontally, with the seminal vesicle lying dorsocaudal to it. [2] In this case, the segment did not show rosette-type uterine cavity. However, characteristic operculated eggs could be well defined in the cavity. The stool examination in diphyllobothriasis reveals operculated oval egg with a knob on the opposite side to the operculum. The eggs of D. pacificum are thick shelled, operculated, measuring 40-60 m in length and 36-40 m in diameter; thus they are smaller than those of D. latum, which is 58-76 m in length and 40-50 m in diameter. [7] The egg present in the stool of this boy had similar features and measured 70 45 m.

Scanty reports of diphyllobothriasis are available in literature from South India. [8],[10] Till date, there are no reports from the northern part of the country. This may be attributed to the fish-eating habit of the people in southern part of the country, which also has a large population of fishing community living in the coastal belt of the peninsular part of India. It is speculated that these infections may be misdiagnosed as taeniasis.

Diphyllobothriasis is associated with consumption of raw or marinated fish. The changing culinary habits have resulted in dishes like carpaccio, sushi and other raw fish recipes being served in the restaurants, especially in the European countries. This has led to an increasing incidence of diphyllobothriasis. [1] In India, these recipes do not find favor with the general population. However, with introduction of multinational cuisine, there are increasing chances of acquiring this infection. Other tapeworm infections like taeniasis, hydatid disease and hymenolepsiasis are commonly found in India. It is therefore suggested that both macroscopic and microscopic examination of the segments should be done to differentiate the commonly encountered taenia infections and to detect diphyllobothriasis.

 ~ Acknowledgement Top

The authors wish to thank Prof. JC Samantray, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, for confirming the identity of the parasite.

 ~ References Top

1.Dupouy-Camet J, Peduzzi, R. Current situation of human diphyllobothriasis in Europe. Eur Surveill 2004; 9 :31-5.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Dick TA, Nelson PA, Choudhury A. Diphyllobothriasis: Update on human cases, Foci, patterns and sources of human infections and future considerations. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health 2001; 32 :59-76.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Chung PR, Sohn WM, Jung Y, Pai SH, Nam MS. Five human cases of Diphyllobothrium latum infection through eating raw flesh of Red-lip mullet, Liza haemabacheila. Korean J parasitol 1997; 35 :283-9.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Lee KW, Suhk HC, Pai KS, Shin HJ, Jung SY, Han ET, et al . Diphyllobothrium latum infection after eating domestic salmon flesh. Korean J Parasitol 2001; 39 :319-21.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Oshima T, Wakai R. Epidemiology of Diphyllobothrium latum infection in Japan, with special reference to infection of cherry salmon. Jpn J Antibiot 1983; 36: 566-72.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Rohela M, Jamaiah I, Chan KW, Yusoff WS. Diphyllobothriasis: The first case report from Malaysia. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health 2002; 33 :229-30.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Sampaio JL, Piana de Andrade V, Lucas MC, Fung L, Gagliardi SM, Santos SR, et al . Diphyllobothriasis, Brazil. Emerg Infect Dis 2005; 11 :1598-600.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Panchratnam S, Jacob E, Kang G. Human diphyllobothriasis: First report from India. Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg 1998; 92 :179-80.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.King CH. Cestodes chapter 280. In : Mandell, Doughlas and Bennett's Principles and Practices of infectious diseases. 6 th ed. Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Raphael Dolin R, editors. Elsevier Churchill Livingstone: Philadelphia; 2005. p. 3286.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Kumar CS, Anand Kumar H, Sunita V, Kapur I. Prevalence of anaemia and worm infestation in school going girls at Gulbarga, Karnataka. Indian Pediatr 2003; 40 :70-2.  Back to cited text no. 10    


  [Figure - 1], [Figure - 2], [Figure - 3]

This article has been cited by
1 Diphyllobothriasis in a nine-year-old child in India: a case report
KV Ramana, Sanjeev Rao, Moses Vinaykumar, M Krishnappa, Rajeshwar Reddy, Mohammed Sarfaraz, Vamshikrishna Kondle, MS Ratnamani, Ratna Rao
Journal of Medical Case Reports. 2011; 5(1): 332
[VIEW] | [DOI]
2 Parasitic zoonoses in India: An overview
Singh, B.B., Sharma, R., Sharma, J.K., Juyal, P.D.
OIE Revue Scientifique et Technique. 2010; 29(3): 629-637
3 Update on the human broad tapeworm (genus diphyllobothrium), including clinical relevance
Scholz, T., Garcia, H.H., Kuchta, R., Wicht, B.
Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 2009; 22(1): 146-160


Print this article  Email this article
Previous article Next article


2004 - Indian Journal of Medical Microbiology
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow

Online since April 2001, new site since 1st August '04