Spirometra species

The taxonomy of the genus Spirometra is very confused for reasons ranging from inadequate descriptions to assumptions made that specimens of larval forms recovered from intermediate or paratenic hosts in Asia are the same as those recovered from related hosts in Europe. It is also apparent that authors had initially tried to assume that the same final host would indicate specimens of the same species. For those interested in reading about the history of this confusion, it is recommended that they examine the section on Spirometra in Wardle and McLeod (1952).

For the purpose of the text that follows, two major species of Spirometra are recognized. Spirometra erinaceieuropaei (Rudolphi, 1819) is discussed as the representative of specimens mainly from Europe and Asia, although this species has also been reported from the Americas. Spirometra mansonoides Mueller, 1935 is considered to represent specimens that are mainly from the Americas. This classification is likely to be less than perfect, however, it represents a beginning that can be used to allow information to be gained on these parasites. In recent years, very little attention has been given to the actual identity of the species of Spirometra present in cats in any given area, and it is hoped that further examination of specific characters will allow the identification of the important species infecting cats.

Four other species has been described from felids. One species is Spirometra felis which was described by Southwell (1928) for specimens recovered from Felistigris and Felispardus in the Calcutta Zoological Gardens, and Southwell believed them the same as the Spirometra felis described as Bothriocephalus felis by Creplin (1825) from a domestic cat. A second species, Spirometra decipiens was originally described from a "cat-like” animal in Brazil by Diesing (1850). Chandler (1925) supposedly "rediscovered” Spirometra decipiens in a domestic cat and a Felisnebulosa in the Calcutta Zoological Gardens. In Uruguay, Wolffhügel and Vogelsang (1926) described Spirometra decipiens from forms obtained by feeding dogs larvae from frogs, and these authors claimed they were the same as Spirometra longicolle from a Felis jaguarondi in Argentina. Faust et al. (1929) recovered specimens identified as Spirometra decipiens from a cat, a leopard, and a dog in China and obtained the same form by feeding larvae from frogs to dogs. Saleque et al. (1990) described a case of Spirometra in a cat in India that was not assigned to any certain species. Two other species have been reported from non-domestic cats in the Americas. Spirometra gracile was described from small specimens recovered from Felis macrura in Brazil. Spirometra urichi was recovered from an ocelot in Trinidad and described by Cameron (1936).


Cameron TWM. 1936. Studies on the endoparasitic fauna of Trinidad. III. Some parasites of Trinidad carnivora. Can J Res 14:25-38.

Chandler AC. 1925. The helminthic parasites of cats in Calcutta and the relation of cat to human helminthic infections. Ind J Med Res 13:213-220.

Creplin FCH. 1825. Observactiones de entozois. 86 pages. Gryphiswaldiae.

Diesing KM. 1850. System helminthum 2. Vienna, Austria.

Faust EC, Campbell HE, Kellogg CR. 1929. Morphological and biological studies on the species of Diphyllobothrium in China. Am J Hyg 9:560-583.

Saleque A, Juyal PD, Bhatia BB. 1990. Spirometra sp. in a domestic cat in India. Vet Parasitol 35:273-276.

Southwell T. 1928. Cestodes of the order Pseudophyllidea recorded from India and Ceylon. Ann Trop Med Parasitol 22:419-448.

Wardle RA, McLeod JA. 1952. The Zoology of Tapeworms. Hafner Publishing Company, New York, USA (facsimile, 1968 printing)

Wolffhügel K, Vogelsang EG. 1926. Dibothriocephalus decipiens (Diesing) y su larva Sparganum reptans en el Uruguay. Rev Med Vet, Montevideo Jg 2:433-434.