Capillaria philippinensis

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 10.04.2021

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Infection with Capillaria philippinensis, a hairworm, first occurred in the Philippines and later in Thailand, Japan, Iran, Egypt and Taiwan, with most infections reported in the Philippines and Thailand. It is a zoonotic disease of migratory fish-eating birds. The eggs are spread along the flyways and infect the fish, which can infect humans if eaten raw (intestinal capillariasis).

General information
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The life cycle of Capillaria philippinensis includes freshwater fish as intermediate hosts and piscivorous birds as final hosts.

Embryonated eggs from bird feces ingested by fish hatch and grow as larvae in the fish gut. Infective larvae fed to monkeys, Mongolian gerbils, and fish-eating birds develop into adult hairworms. The larvae become adults in 10 to 11 days. First generation females produce larvae. These larvae develop into male and egg-producing female worms. The eggs are excreted in the feces, enter the water, embryonate, and infect fish. Autoinfection is part of the life cycle and results in hyperinfection.

Humans acquire the infection by eating small freshwater fish raw. The parasite multiplies, and symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and edema develop. Chronic intestinal infections lead to malabsorption with protein and electrolyte losses.

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Treatment consists of electrolyte replacement and administration of mebendazole or albendazole.

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  2. El-Dib NA et al. (2015) Molecular detection of Capillaria philippinensis: An emerging zoonosis in Egypt. Exp Parasitol 154:127-133.
  3. Knaus M et al (2015) Efficacy of Broadline against Capillaria aerophila lungworm infection in cats. Parasitol Res 114:1971-1975.
  4. Traversa D et al (2012) Efficacy and safety of imidacloprid 10%/moxidectin 1% spot-on formulation in the treatment of feline infection by Capillaria aerophila. Parasitol Res 111:1793-1798

Incoming links (2)

Capillaria; Trichuridae;

Outgoing links (2)

Albendazole; Mebendazole;


Last updated on: 10.04.2021