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Sparganosis: an under-recognised zoonosis in Australia?


Sparganosis is a rare zoonotic parasitosis that is sporadically reported worldwide. In Australia, the causative tapeworms are considered endemic in wildlife animals, however, there have been only five reported human infections. We present three additional cases of sparganosis, involving two Australian born gentlemen who have never travelled overseas and a woman who emigrated from Ethiopia. The first man presented with two unusual subcutaneous lumps that migrated along the anterior abdominal wall connected by a tunnel. The second man presented with two separate lumps, one on the thigh and the other on the left upper abdomen over a 4-week interval. The woman presented with 6 weeks of intermittent fevers, night sweats, abdominal pain and passing intestinal worms. This series of patients suggests that sparganosis is under-recognised in Australia and serves as a reminder for clinicians to the varied presentations that can be characteristic of this lesser known zoonosis.

  • tropical medicine (infectious disease)
  • general surgery

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