Dwarf tapeworm (Hymenolepis nana): Characteristics in the Northern Territory 2002-2013

Briony Willcocks, Gary N. McAuliffe, Robert W. Baird

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Aim Review of dwarf tapeworm (Hymenolepis nana) presentations to Northern Territory (NT) Government health-care facilities over 12 years. We postulated H. nana infections would remain unchanged despite the introduction of deworming programmes as H. nana is not eradicated with albendazole treatment. Methods A retrospective observational analysis of consecutive microbiologically confirmed cases of H. nana identified by NT Government health-care facilities between 2002 and 2013. Results Four hundred sixty-one episodes of H. nana infection were identified over the 12-year period from 68 387 faecal samples. Infections were overwhelmingly in young children with a median age of patients being 3.0 years (interquartile range 2.25-4.67). Patients were predominantly Indigenous (98.9%, P = 0.001) and infections occurred across the entire NT. Infections were associated with anaemia (18.2%) and eosinophilia (39.6%). The annual prevalence of NT Government health-care facility diagnosed H. nana infection remains relatively constant from 6.9 {4.8-9.0 (confidence interval (CI))} cases per 10 000 Indigenous population in 2002, compared with 6.6 (4.7-8.4 CI) cases per 10 000 Indigenous population in 2013. Infection rates in Indigenous children <5 years of age were: 46.1 (16.4-75.8 CI) cases/10 000 in 2002, compared with 44.3 (15.3-73.3 CI) cases/10 000 Indigenous population in 2013. Conclusion H. nana is the most frequently identified cestode (tapeworm) in NT Government health-care facilities. H. nana remains endemic throughout the NT, predominantly infecting Indigenous children less than 5 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)982-987
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • hymenolepis
  • Indigenous
  • Northern Territory


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