Show Summary Details
Page of

Pentastomiasis (porocephalosis, linguatulosis/linguatuliasis) 

Pentastomiasis (porocephalosis, linguatulosis/linguatuliasis)

Pentastomiasis (porocephalosis, linguatulosis/linguatuliasis)

David A. Warrell



Taxonomy—phylogenetic trees indicate coevolution of pentastomes and other maxillopodan/branchiuran parasites with their vertebrate hosts: birds, snakes, mammals, and fish

Updated on 31 May 2012. The previous version of this content can be found here.
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 26 April 2017

Pentastomiases or porocephaloses are zoonotic infections caused by maxillopod crustacean parasites (subclass Pentastomida).

Linguatula serrata (‘tongueworm’)—this is cosmopolitan, infecting upper respiratory tracts of the definitive hosts, canids. Nymphs discharged in nasal secretions are taken up by herbivorous animals, the intermediate hosts, which pass on the infection when they are eaten. Humans may be infected by eating raw liver and other offal of sheep, goats, and other animals, soon after which acute allergic obstructive nasolaryngopharyngitis (halzoun or marrara syndrome) may develop. Larvae can be found in sputum and vomitus.

Armillifer spp.—these are confined to Africa and South-East Asia, where they infect the respiratory tracts of snakes. Humans are infected by drinking snake-polluted water or by eating raw snake, a common practice in some communities. Most infections are asymptomatic, but massive infections may produce symptoms of an acute abdomen and are rarely fatal by causing intestinal obstruction or enterocolitis. Nymphs are detected at laparotomy or autopsy and (calcified) on abdominal radiographs.

Treatment and prevention—aside from standard measures for hypersensitivity phenomena, there is no specific treatment, although mebendazole has been suggested. Prevention is by thoroughly cooking all meat of whatever origin.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.