Lapis ISSN 2398-2969

Taenia pisiformis

Contributor(s): Vetstream Ltd, Will Easson, Molly Varga




  • Class: Cestoda.
  • Order: Cyclophyllidea.
  • Family: Taeniidae.
  • Genus:Taenia.
  • Species:pisiformis.

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Clinical Effects



  • Adult tapeworm in small intestine of rural and urban dogs that hunt and in other Canidae.
  • Segments and eggs in the environment are infective to rabbit/hare intermediate host.
  • Metacestode (cysticercus) on the liver and in the peritoneal cavity of rabbits and hares.


  • See lifecycle diagram   Taenia pisiformis: lifecycle - diagram  :
    • Adult tapeworm   Taenia spp: adult  .
    • Gravid proglottid.
    • Egg.
    • Metacestode (cysticercus)   Taenia pisiformis: metacestode (cysticercus) 01    Taenia pisiformis: metacestode (cysticercus) 02 - surgical removal    Taenia pisiformis: metacestode (cysticercus) 03  .
    • Rabbit/hare intermediate host.


Transmission to rabbit/hare
  • Segments migrate out of anus and fall to the ground.
  • Segments passed in feces migrate out onto grass or soil.
  • As segments migrate they leave a trail of thousands of eggs in a gelatinous film over the surface of grass, etc.
  • Eggs left by segments on feces can be eaten by flies and deposited over pasture.
  • Eggs eaten with herbage by rabbits or hares.

Transmission to dog

  • Metacestode (cysticercus) in abdomen of lagomorph eaten by hunting dog or dogs fed rabbit offal.

Pathological effects

  • Very little protective immunity develops in the dog population.
  • Protection (mainly antibody-mediated) can be induced by prior infection in rabbits.
In dog
  • The presence of 1 or many tapeworms usually has little effect on the health of a well-fed dog, burdens are usually only 1-10 tapeworms.
  • Irritation of a segment spontaneously migrating from the anus can cause 'scooting'.
  • Very large numbers of worms in young, poorly nourished dogs could reduce growth rates.
  • Very rarely, obstruction of the intestine from many hundreds of worms can occur.

In rabbit/ hare

  • Migrating cysts in rabbits' livers induce hemorrhage and inflammation followed by fibrosis. The white migratory tracts result in condemnation of livers in rabbits produced for human consumption.


Control via animal

  • Anthelmintic treatment of dog.
  • Dogs that are free to hunt can be treated regularly, ie every 1-2 months.
  • Uncooked rabbit offal should not be fed to dogs.
  • Control not possible in rabbits.

Control via chemotherapies


  • Either praziquantel   Praziquantel  (5-10 mg/kg PO SC or IM repeat after 10 days).
  • Fenbendazole   Fenbendazole  (20 mg/kg PO SID for 5 days).
  • Mebendazole   Mebendazole   compounded into the food at 1 g/kg feed (approximately 50 mg/kg dose) has been reported to kill both the immature and mature forms ofC. pisiformis.

Control via environment

  • Avoiding allowing potentially infected dogs to defecate on pasture that will be grazed by pet or production rabbits.


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Further Reading


Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Owiny J R (2001) Cysticercosis in laboratory rabbits. Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science 40 (2), 45-48 PubMed.
  • Allan J C, Craig P S, Sherington J (1999) Helminth parasites of the wild rabbit Oryctolagus caniculus near Malham Tarn, Yorkshire, UK. J Helminthol 73 (4), 289-294 PubMed.
  • Edwards G T & Herbert I V (1980) Some quantitative characters used in the identification of Taenia hydatigena, Taenia ovisTaenia pisiformis and Taenia multiceps adult worms, and Taenia multiceps metacestodes. J Helminthol 55 (1), 1-7 PubMed.

Other sources of information

  • Hofing G L & Kraus L (1994) Arthropod and Helminth Parasites. In:Biology of the Laboratory Rabbit. 2nd edn. Eds: Manning P J, Ringler D H & Newcomer C E. Academic Press, London.