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      Severe strongyloidiasis: a systematic review of case reports

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          Strongyloidiasis is commonly a clinically unapparent, chronic infection, but immuno suppressed subjects can develop fatal disease. We carried out a review of literature on hyperinfection syndrome (HS) and disseminated strongyloidiasis (DS), in order to describe the most challenging aspects of severe strongyloidiasis.


          We conducted a structured search using PubMed to collect case reports and short case series on HS/DS published from 1991 to 2011. We restricted search to papers in English, Spanish, Italian and French. Case reports were classified as HS/DS according to given definitions.


          Records screened were 821, and 311 were excluded through titles and abstract evaluation. Of 510 full-text articles assessed for eligibility, 213 were included in qualitative analysis. As some of them were short case series, eventually the number of cases analyzed was 244.

          Steroids represented the main trigger predisposing to HS and DS (67% cases): they were mostly administered to treat underlying conditions (e.g. lymphomas, rheumatic diseases). However, sometimes steroids were empirically prescribed to treat signs and symptoms caused by unsuspected/unrecognized strongyloidiasis. Diagnosis was obtained by microscopy examination in 100% cases, while serology was done in a few cases (6.5%). Only in 3/29 cases of solid organ/bone marrow transplantation there is mention of pre-transplant serological screening. Therapeutic regimens were different in terms of drugs selection and combination, administration route and duration. Similar fatality rate was observed between patients with DS (68.5%) and HS (60%).


          Proper screening (which must include serology) is mandatory in high - risk patients, for instance candidates to immunosuppressive medications, currently or previously living in endemic countries. In some cases, presumptive treatment might be justified. Ivermectin is the gold standard for treatment, although the optimal dosage is not clearly defined in case of HS/DS.

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          Most cited references 197

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          Complicated and fatal Strongyloides infection in Canadians: risk factors, diagnosis and management.

          Strongyloidiasis, which is caused by the nematode Strongyloides stercoralis, is a common and persistent infection, particularly in developing countries. In the setting of compromised cellular immunity, it can result in fulminant dissemination with case-fatality rates of over 70%. The majority of new Canadian immigrants come from countries where Strongyloides is highly endemic; therefore, the burden of Strongyloides may be underappreciated in Canada. Because early diagnosis and therapy can have a marked impact on disease outcome, screening for this infection should be considered mandatory for patients who have a history of travel or residence in a disease-endemic area and risk factors for disseminated disease (e.g., corticosteroid use and human T-lymphotropic virus type I infection).
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            Update on strongyloidiasis in the immunocompromised host.

            Immunocompromised persons are the most vulnerable population at risk for developing life-threatening clinical syndromes associated with strongyloidiasis, such as hyperinfection syndrome (HS) or dissemination. This review focuses on describing Strongyloides infection in the immunocompromised host, including immune response against this infection, analyzing the cases with HS published during the past 4 years in the United States, and describing the most sensitive diagnostic tools and the most effective treatment for each clinical syndrome. Strongyloidiasis is becoming an important parasitic disease in the United States, especially in the immunocompromised immigrant population. Because the transplant population is particularly at risk for developing HS, both recipients and donors should be screened for Strongyloides. Clinicians should also be aware that the development of HS can follow unexpectedly a few days after appropriate anthelminthic therapy. Highly sensitive screening tests are still not available in the major tertiary medical centers. Parenteral ivermectin has been used in some severe cases. Further therapy developments and improving diagnostic tools are warranted.
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              Bacterial complications of strongyloidiasis: Streptococcus bovis meningitis.

              We report the case of a 64-year-old veteran who had Streptococcus bovis meningitis as a result of a long latent Strongyloides infection that became acute when he was treated with prednisone. We reviewed 38 reported cases of serious bacterial infections associated with strongyloidiasis. Patients most frequently had nonspecific gastrointestinal symptoms. Of these 38 patients, 21 (55%) had meningitis, and 28 (73%) had bacteremia that was polymicrobial in 3 cases (8%). Other sites of infection included lung, bone marrow, ascites, mitral valve, and lymph node. Most infections were due to enteric gram-negative bacteria. There is one previously reported case of S bovis meningitis. Thirty-four of the patients (89%) were immunosuppressed; 21 of these (55%) were taking pharmacologic doses of adrenal corticosteroids. Thirty-three of the 38 (87%) patients died. Patients with enteric bacterial infection without an obvious cause should be tested for the presence of strongyloidiasis.

                Author and article information

                BMC Infect Dis
                BMC Infect. Dis
                BMC Infectious Diseases
                BioMed Central
                8 February 2013
                : 13
                : 78
                [1 ]Centre for Tropical Diseases (CTD), Sacro Cuore Hospital, Negrar, Verona, Italy
                [2 ]Barcelona Centre for International Health Research (CRESIB) Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain
                [3 ]Department of Clinical sciences, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
                Copyright ©2013 Buonfrate et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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