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Brief Summary

The Giant Kidney Worm (Dioctophyme renale) is a large parasitic nematode (roundworm) with a worldwide distribution. Carnivores, including canids, mustelids and felids, serve as the usual definitive hosts for the D. renale. However, other mammals, including herbivores and humans, can become infected. Unembryonated eggs are shed in the urine of the definitive host and L1 larvae develop inside the egg after about a month in water. After being eaten by the invertebrate intermediate host (usually an annelid), the eggs hatch in the digestive tract and mature into L3 larvae after two molts (usually 2-3 months at 20-30°C). If the intermediate host is eaten by a paratenic host, or "transport host" (including fish and amphibians), the L3 larvae encyst and do not develop any further. The definitive host then becomes infected after eating a paratenic host housing encysted L3 larvae. Definitive hosts may also become infected after directly consuming infected invertebrate intermediate hosts. After being ingested by the definitive host, the infective larvae migrate through the gastric wall to the liver and eventually to the kidney. Worms become adults roughly six months after infecting the definitive host. Humans may also become infected after eating undercooked paratenic hosts. Although humans may serve as definitive hosts, often the larvae wind up in subcutaneous nodules and do not develop any further.

(Centers for Disease Control Parasites and Health website)

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