Porocephaliasis is a condition associated with species in the closely related genera Porocephalus and Armillifer. (The term "pentastomiasis" encompasses all diseases of Pentastomida, which includes porocephaliasis and linguatulosis.)

SpecialtyInfectious disease

Porocephaliasis is associated with contact with snakes. (This is in contrast with linguatulosis, which is associated with contact with dogs or wolves.)

It has been reported from Africa, Malaysia and the Middle East. Its occurrence has been rare in Europe and North America where it has been found in immigrants and travelers.[1]

Transmission and presentationEdit

It is prevalent in parts of Africa[2] and Asia[3] where eating snake meat is common. In Africa it has also been associated with groups who use the snake as a totem.[4] Unlike linguatuliasis, humans are only ever an accidental intermediate host for Armillifer, i.e. the larvae establish themselves in the visceral organs causing human visceral pentastomiasis, but adults do not occur in the human respiratory system. After a while the larvae die within the host and sometimes calcify, leaving characteristic crescent-shaped structures seen in X-ray.[5] In extreme cases a heavy parasite burden can have serious medical consequences[6] and can even be fatal.[7]


Diagnosis is by histopathology.[1]

Treatment and preventionEdit

No treatment is necessary in asymptomatic patients, but there is no antiparasitic chemotherapy or medical treatment available for pentastomiasis. Surgery may be needed for infection by many parasites.[1] Infection can be prevented by washing the hands after touching snake secretions or meat and cooking snake meat thoroughly prior to consumption.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Dennis Tappe & Dietrich W. Büttner (2009). Bethony, Jeffrey M. (ed.). "Diagnosis of Human Visceral Pentastomiasis". PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. 3 (2): 1–7. doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000320. PMC 2643528. PMID 19238218.
  2. ^ V. du Plessis; A. J. Birnie; I. Eloff; H. Reuter; S. Andronikou (2007). "Pentastomiasis (Armillifer armillatus infestation)" (PDF). South African Medical Journal. 97: 928–930.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ M. H. Yao; F. Wu; L. F. Tang (2008). "Human pentastomiasis in China: case report and literature review". Journal of Parasitology. 94 (6): 1295–1298. doi:10.1645/GE-1597.1. PMID 18576869.
  4. ^ J. C. B. Dakubo; S. B. Naaeder; R. Kumodji (2008). "Totemism and the Transmission of Human Pentastomiasis". Ghana Medical Journal. 42 (4): 165–168. PMC 2673832. PMID 19452026.
  5. ^ E. M. Mapp; M. D. Pollack; L. H. Goldman (1976). "Roentgen diagnosis of Armillifer armillatus infestation (porocephalosis) in man". Journal of the National Medical Association. 68 (3): 198–200. PMC 2609651. PMID 933188.
  6. ^ C.-M. Pan; H.-F. Tang; M.-H. Qui; Q.-X. Xiong (2005). "Heavy infection with Armillifer moniliformis: a case report". Chinese Medical Journal. 118: 262–264. Archived from the original on 2011-07-18.
  7. ^ H. Yapo Ette; L. Fanton; K. D. Adou Bryn; K. Botti; K. Koffi; D. Malicier (2003). "Human pentastomiasis discovered post-mortem". Forensic Science International. 137 (1): 52–54. doi:10.1016/S0379-0738(03)00281-0. PMID 14550614.

External linksEdit