Praziquantel is a medication that kills certain types of parasitic worms that can infest human or animal hosts. It is often used in both human and veterinary medicine, though in some countries, it is only approved for use in animals. It is effective at treating worms in both humans and animals in those places where it has been approved for both.
Treatment with praziquantel is usually quick and extremely effective. Patients are prescribed the medication for only a day, with the complete dose divided up into three treatments. The medicine is taken orally and can be taken with food to decrease the severity of gastrointestinal side effects. Grapefruit should be avoided while taking this drug as it can increase the amount of medication absorbed by the body.
Schistosoma, which is a genus of flatworms, can be eliminated by treatment with praziquantel. Most worms in this genus are small and live in the blood stream or the liver after they are picked up from contaminated food or contact with contaminated water. Occasionally, this medication may be used to treat infestation with intestinal worms, such as tape worms, as well.
Patients with disease of the liver, kidneys, or heart should exercise caution when taking praziquantel. It may also have adverse effects on patients with a history of seizure. Children under the age of four should not take the drug. In healthy patients, side effects are usually mild and clear up soon after treatment. Patients can experience dizziness, confusion, and a general feeling of illness and fever. The cognitive effects, however, can occasionally be severe, and patients should be careful driving a car or operating machinery after taking the drug.
Though praziquantel should not be given to young children, it is considered safe for pregnant women. It can, however, be passed to a nursing baby through the breast milk. Nursing mothers are advised not to nurse their babies for 72 hours after the final dose of praziquantel is administered.
In veterinary medicine, praziquantel is frequently used to treat infestations of worms, including tapeworms, in dogs, cats, and other animals. Animals tolerate the medication well and do not usually show any side effects, though animals under the age of 6 weeks should not be given this drug. Medication intended for animals should not be used by human patients, even though the active ingredient, praziquantel, is the same in both treatments. Additives, dosage, and inactive ingredients, however, differ from animal medication to human medication.