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Raillietina echinobothrida
Raillietina echinobothrida
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Platyhelminthes
Class: Cestoda
Order: Cyclophyllidea
Family: Davaineidae
Genus: Raillietina
Species: R. echinobothrida
Binomial name
Raillietina echinobothrida
Mégnin, 1880

Raillietina echinobothrida is a parasitic tapeworm belonging to the class Cestoda. It is the most prevalent and pathogenic helminth parasite in birds, particularly in domestic fowl, Gallus domesticus Linnaeus, 1758.[1][2] It requires two hosts, birds and ants, for completion of its life cycle. It is a hermaphrodite worm having both the male and female reproductive organs in its body. The parasite is responsible for 'nodular tapeworm disease' in poultry.



The body of an adult R. echinobothrida is a characteristic tapeworm structure, composed of a series of ribbon-like body segments, gradually enlarging from the anterior end towards the posterior. It is whitish in colour, highly elongated, dorso-ventrally flattened, and entirely covered with a tegument. The body can be as long as 25 cm, and generally 1-1.5 cm broad. The body is divisible into the head region called 'scolex', followed by an unsegmented 'neck', and then by highly segmented body proper called 'strobila'.[3] The scolex bears four suckers and a rostellum, which are the organs of attachment to the host. Individual segments in the strobila are called 'proglottids' and are entirely covered with hair-like 'microtriches'.[4] These microtriches are the absorptive structures for feeding, and there are no digestive organs. A number of testes and a pair ovaries are present in each proglottid.[5]

Life Cycle

It completes its life cycle in two different hosts. The adult life is spent in the intestine of fowl, which is the definitive host, and juvenile period is in ant, particularly the species of Tetramorium, which is the intermediate host.[6] Gravid proglottids containing a large number of egg capsules are passed out to the exterior with the feces of infested chicken. Each egg capsule in turn contains 3 to 8 eggs. The larvae called onchospheres are ingested by ants, and enters the alimentary canal, from where they migrates into the abdominal cavity of the insect and develops into mature cysticercoids.[7]


The adult parasite is infects the small intestine of fowl, from where it obtains nutrition from the digested food of the host. The tapeworm is responsible for stunted growth of young chicken, emaciation of adult and decreased egg production of hen. In general the tapeworm does not cause gross pathological damages on well nourished chicken, but do compete for food when they grow to excessive number. In such situation, severe lesions on the intestinal walls and diarrhoea could arise, which ostensibly resulted in ill health. Under heavy infestation, R. echinobothrida is listed as one of the most pathogenic tapeworms, causing conspicuous intestinal nodules in chicken, with characteristic hyperplastic enteritis associated with the formation of granuloma. The symptom is termed “nodular tapeworm disease” in poultry.[1][8] Intestinal nodules often result in degeneration and necrosis of intestinal villi, accompanied by anaemia with a significant increase of total leukocyte counts and decrease of total serum protein.[9]


  1. ^ a b McDougald LR (2003). Cestodes and trematodes. In: Diseases of Poultry, 11th edn (YM Saif, HJ Barnes, AM Fadly, JR Glisson, LR McDougald & DE Swayne, eds). Iowa State Press, Blackwell Publishing Company, Iowa, USA, pp. 961-972. ISBN 0813807182
  2. ^ Permin A & Hansen JW (1998). The Epidemiology, Diagnosis and Control of Poultry Parasites. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy, pp. 6-8. ISBN 9251042152
  3. ^ Mu L, Li HY, Yan BZ (2009). "Comparative study on morphology and development of two species of Raillietina from chicken". Zhongguo Ji Sheng Chong Xue Yu Ji Sheng Chong Bing Za Zhi 27 (3): 232-236. PMID 19852366. 
  4. ^ Radha T, Satyaprema VA, Ramalingam K, Indumathi SP & Venkatesh C (2006). "Ultrastructure of polymorphic microtriches in the tegument of Raillietina echinobothrida that infects Gallus domesticus (fowl)". Journal of Parasitic Diseases 30 (2): 153-162. 
  5. ^ Isamu S (1954). "Morphological studies on the chicken tapeworm, Raillietina (Raillietina) echinobothrida". Doubutsugaku zasshi 63 (25): 200-203. 
  6. ^ Horsfall MW (1938). Observations on the life history of Raillietina echinobothrida and of R. tetragona (Cestoda). The Journal of Parasitology 24: 409-421.
  7. ^ Isamu S (1953). On the life history of the poultry cestode, Raillietina (Raillietina) echinobothrida. Doubutsugaku zasshi, 62(6): 202-205.
  8. ^ Nadakal AM, Mohandas A, John KO & Muraleedharan K (1973). Contribution to the biology of the fowl cestode Raillietina echinobothrida with a note on its pathogenicity. Transactions of the American Microscopical Society, 92(2): 273-276.
  9. ^ Samad MA, Alam MM, Bari AS (1986). "Effect of Raillietina echinobothrida infection on blood values and intestinal tissues of domestic fowls of Bangladesh". Veterinary Parasitology 21 (4): 279-284. PMID 3776079. 

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