Article

The worm that turned.

Department of General Medicine, Christchurch Hospital, Private Bag 4710, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Impact Factor: 1.82). 07/2009; 103(10):1065-7. DOI:10.1016/j.trstmh.2009.05.007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT When a patient presents with acute myelopathy in the developed world, helminthic infection is not routinely considered in the differential diagnosis. We report the case of a 34-year-old South African male who presented with acute urinary retention and lower leg paraesthesiae. Subsequently, myeloradiculopathy secondary to Schistosoma mansoni was diagnosed on the basis of typical magnetic resonance imaging changes in the conus medullaris and positive stool microscopy. Prior to this presentation the patient had lived in urban western South Africa and more recently in New Zealand, without exposure to infected water for 22 years. His symptoms and signs resolved following treatment with praziquantel and methylprednisolone. Spinal schistosomiasis is a rare but serious cause of myelopathy and should be considered in any patient who has ever visited or lived in an endemic area.

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    ABSTRACT: Cerebral schistosomiasis and spinal schistosomiasis are severe underrecognized complications of Schistosoma sp. infection, and can occur at any time during the parasitic infection. Neuroschistosomiasis has been increasingly reported not only in endemic areas but also in Western countries owing to immigration and international travel. Immunogenic interaction between schistosome egg deposition and the delayed hypersensitivity reaction of the host are the main neuropathogenic mechanisms involved. Eggs induce a periovular granulomatous reaction in the tissues. In some cases, schistosome adult worms may aberrantly migrate to the central nervous system via the vertebral venous plexus and place the ova at an ectopic site. Headache and seizures are common in cerebral schistosomiasis, and intracranial hypertension and hydrocephalus may occur in tumour-like and cerebellar schistosomiasis. Spinal schistosomiasis may manifest itself as acute myelitis and/or myeloradiculopathy. Recognition of neuroschistosomiasis is important so that early treatment with praziquantel and steroids can be started in an attempt to prevent severe disability.
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C A Macdonald