ANGIOSTRONGYLIASIS

            

            

WHAT IS IT?

Angiostrongyliasis is a disease that affects the brain and spinal cord.  It is caused by a parasitic worm called Angiostrongylus cantonensis found throughout Asia and the South Pacific.  It is rarely diagnosed in the U.S.

HOW DO YOU GET IT?

You can get angiostrongyliasis by eating food contaminated by the larval stage of A. cantonensis worms.  These worms can be found in raw or under cooked snails, slugs, prawns, fishes, and land crabs.  Lettuce or other leafy vegetables exposed to infected slugs or snails can also become contaminated by the worm.  Angiostrongyliasis is not spread person-to-person.

WHO IS AFFECTED BY IT?

Angiostrongyliasis is a threat to millions of people all over the world.  Most cases of eosinophilic meningistis have been reported from Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin, although the infection is spreading to many other areas of the world, including Africa and the Caribbean.  Abdominal angiostrongyliasis has been reported from Costa Rica, and occurs most commonly in young children.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE IT?

Clinical symptoms include severe headaches, nausea, vomiting, neck stiffness, seizures, and neurologic abnormalities.  The symptoms usually start 1 to 3 weeks after exposure to the parasite.  Occasionally, ocular invasion occurs.  Eosinophilia is present in most of cases.  Abdominal angiostrongyliasis mimics appendicitis, with eosinophilia.

WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?

Problems associated with the disease are sometimes treated surgically.  The effectiveness of oral medications has not been established.

IF YOU GET IT ONCE, CAN YOU GET IT AGAIN?

Yes, there is no evidence that a person develops immunity to a recurrent infection with this worm.

HOW DO YOU KEEP FROM GETTING IT?

Don't eat raw foods contaminated with snails or slugs.  Boil suspect snails, prawns, fishes, and crabs for 3-5 minutes, this will kill the larval stage of the worm.

 

References

Markel and Voge’s Medical Parasitology. Eighth Edition, 1999. Markell, E.K., John, D.T. and Krotoski, W.A.  W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia.

Loria-Cortes, R and Lobo-Sanahuja, JF. Clinical Abdominal Angiostrongylosis. Am J Trop Med Hyg 1980:29;538-544.

Beaver P, Jung R and Cupp E. Clinical Parasitology, 9th edition, Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, 1984:221-301.

http://www.cabi-publishing.org/Bookshop/Readingroom/0851995160/0851995160Ch5.PDF

 

Created by Ann Ha                        Human Biology 103 Parasites and Pestilence                    Spring 2002                     Instructor: D. Scott Smith, MD