Manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of Strongyloides stercoralis infection

Marisel Segarra-Newnham
Annals of Pharmacotherapy 2007, 41 (12): 1992-2001

OBJECTIVE: To summarize current literature on the manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of Strongyloides stercoralis infection.

DATA SOURCES: A search was conducted of PubMed (1970-August 2007). Search terms included Strongyloides stercoralis, hyperinfection, prevention, and treatment. Reviews, studies, and recent case reports were included. Additional references were obtained from article bibliographies.

STUDY SELECTION AND DATA EXTRACTION: All studies or review articles published in English from 1970 to August 2007 and case reports of hyperinfection or disseminated disease published since 2000 were evaluated.

DATA SYNTHESIS: Strongyloidiasis is a parasitic infection endemic to tropical, subtropical, and temperate areas including the Appalachian region of the southern US. Prevalence rates vary widely. Patients may present with infection decades after original exposure. Diagnosis can be achieved by identifying the larvae in the stool; usually, more than one sample is needed. Most patients are asymptomatic. However, in immunosuppressed patients, a hyperinfection syndrome or disseminated disease may occur due to the ability of the parasite to reproduce within the host. The most common risk factors for these complications are immunosuppression caused by corticosteroids and infection with human T lymphotropic virus type 1. Treatment options for uncomplicated disease include thiabendazole, ivermectin, and albendazole. Thiabendazole has been replaced by ivermectin as treatment of choice due to better tolerance. These antihelminthics have been used to treat hyperinfection or disseminated disease alone or in combination, but data are limited to case reports or case series. Prevention of disease is mainly achieved by wearing shoes in endemic areas to avoid contact with infected soil.

CONCLUSIONS: Strongyloides is a unique parasite that can cause a hyperinfection syndrome and disseminated infection several years after exposure. Treatment options include ivermectin, thiabendazole, or albendazole. Information on the best treatment for disseminated disease and hyperinfection is limited.

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