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Early neuroschistosomiasis complicating Katayama syndrome.

To the Editor: Neurologic complications of schistosomiasis schistosomiasis (shĭs`təsōmī`əsĭs), bilharziasis, or snail fever, parasitic disease caused by blood flukes, trematode worms of the genus Schistosoma.  may occur early as well as late in the course of infection; they result when a pair of worms becomes lodged in the vasculature vasculature /vas·cu·la·ture/ (vas´ku-lah-chur)
1. circulatory system.

2. any part of the circulatory system.

, and their eggs become trapped in the microcirculation microcirculation /mi·cro·cir·cu·la·tion/ (-sir?ku-la´shun) the flow of blood through the fine vessels (arterioles, capillaries, and venules).microcirculato´ry

 of the brain or spinal cord. There, they elicit a strong inflammatory response, which causes the clinical manifestations (1-3). Magnetic resonance and computed tomographic images of the brain show nonspecific nonspecific /non·spe·cif·ic/ (non?spi-sif´ik)
1. not due to any single known cause.

2. not directed against a particular agent, but rather having a general effect.


, contrast-enhancing infiltrates, which suggests brain tumors (4). Definitive diagnosis requires finding Schistosoma eggs in feces, urine, rectal biopsy specimen, or biopsy specimen of central nervous system lesions (5), while a positive antibody test result provides a probable diagnosis only. To prevent irreversible damage, early treatment with corticosteroids is essential, after which the adult worms can be eliminated with praziquantel praziquantel /pra·zi·quan·tel/ (pra?zi-kwahn´t'l) a broad-spectrum anthelmintic used for the treatment of a wide variety of fluke and tapeworm infections.

 (3,4). A high degree of suspicion is therefore needed to avoid treatment delay.

Neuroschistosomiasis has been reported in persons living near Lake Malawi, in Malawi (6). Four members of a Belgian expatriate family (both parents and 2 children, a 12-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl) went swimming in Lake Malawi in September 1998. On the advice of a physician, they took praziquantel 2 weeks afterward as postexposure prophylaxis. Nevertheless, fever, hypereosinophilia, cough, and abdominal discomfort developed in the mother and both children 6-8 weeks after they had been swimming; these symptoms were indicative of Katayama syndrome. The father remained asymptomatic but had a moderately raised eosinophil eosinophil /eo·sin·o·phil/ (e?o-sin´o-fil) a granular leukocyte having a nucleus with two lobes connected by a thread of chromatin, and cytoplasm containing coarse, round granules of uniform size.  count (760 cells/[mm.sup.3]) and tested positive for Schistosoma antibodies. Schistosoma hematobium eggs were found in feces and urine of the mother and girl. All family members tested negative for schistosomiasis on a screening visit the previous year. The boy was admitted to a Zambian hospital because of high fever, cough, and a pulmonary infiltrate. He did not improve on antimicrobial drugs given for suspected pneumonia, and a gradually worsening neurologic syndrome developed, with left-sided hemiparesis hemiparesis /hemi·pa·re·sis/ (-pah-re´sis) paresis affecting one side of the body.

Slight paralysis or weakness affecting one side of the body.
, slurred speech, and slow movements.

The boy's condition prompted repatriation Repatriation

The process of converting a foreign currency into the currency of one's own country.

If you are American, converting British Pounds back to U.S. dollars is an example of repatriation.
 [approximately equal to] 10 weeks after the exposure. On admission at the University Hospital of Antwerp, his symptoms included fever, left-sided paresis paresis /pa·re·sis/ (pah-re´sis) slight or incomplete paralysis.

general paresis  paralytic dementia; a form of neurosyphilis in which chronic meningoencephalitis causes gradual loss of cortical
 with left-sided Babinski sign, and high eosinophil count (3,080 cells/[mm.sup.3]). An ELISA ELISA (e-li´sah) Enzyme-Linked Immuno-Sorbent Assay; any enzyme immunoassay using an enzyme-labeled immunoreactant and an immunosorbent.

 for Schistosoma antibodies was weakly positive. Examination of spinal fluid showed normal cell and protein content and a slightly lowered glycorrachia. A nuclear magnetic resonance nuclear magnetic resonance: see magnetic resonance.
nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR)

Selective absorption of very high-frequency radio waves by certain atomic nuclei subjected to a strong stationary magnetic field.
 (NMR NMR: see magnetic resonance. ) image of the brain showed multiple, small, contrast-enhanced white matter lesions around the semiovale center (cranially from the lateral ventricles) bilaterally and in the right parietal cortex. A tentative diagnosis of acute neuroschistosomiasis was made, and the patient was given corticosteroids with praziquantel, 750 mg twice a day for 14 days. At the end of this treatment, his condition had markedly improved; discrete hemiparesis was the only residual symptom. One month later, the patient had returned to normal, apart from left leg hyperreflexia. An NMR of the brain still showed residual lesions around the semiovale centers. Ten months later, results of clinical and neurologic examinations were normal, but NMR of the brain still showed minor residual lesions around the semiovale center on the right side. During follow-up, a serologic se·rol·o·gy  
n. pl. se·rol·o·gies
1. The science that deals with the properties and reactions of serums, especially blood serum.

 shift (indirect hemagglutination hemagglutination /he·mag·glu·ti·na·tion/ (he?mah-gloo-ti-na´shun) agglutination of erythrocytes.

 schistosomal antibody test) was seen, and eosinophil count decreased gradually to normal (Table). Although the boy never excreted eggs, S. hematobium infection was presumptively diagnosed on the basis of active infection in his relatives and the response to treatment.

When neurologic symptoms appear soon after primary infection with Schistosoma flukes, confirming the diagnosis may prove difficult, and schistosomiasis should be suspected when the patient has bathed in potentially infected water. Furthermore, hypereosinophilia is an early warning sign, as seroconversion seroconversion /se·ro·con·ver·sion/ (-con-ver´zhun) the change of a seronegative test from negative to positive, indicating the development of antibodies in response to immunization or infection.  and egg excretion may be slower to evolve. Both elements provide sufficient circumstantial evidence to strongly suspect the diagnosis (2). In this case, the full-blown Katayama syndrome contributed to the evidence.

Praziquantel only kills adult worms and does not inactivate in·ac·ti·vate
1. To render nonfunctional.

2. To make quiescent.

 schistosomules, nor the miracidium miracidium /mi·ra·cid·i·um/ (mi?rah-sid´e-um) pl. miraci´dia   the first stage larva of a trematode, which undergoes further development in the body of a snail.  inside the eggs, which will continue to elicit a damaging immunologic response for some time. Early antischistosomal treatment might, in fact, worsen symptoms (7). Because schistosomules may require up to 8 weeks to mature, early postexposure treatment with praziquantel cannot be used to forestall disease after primary infection. Furthermore, Katayama syndrome may occur as early as 3 weeks after exposure. On the other hand, withholding praziquantel until larvae have matured (8 weeks after exposure) would not prevent Katayama syndrome in many cases (7). Acute symptoms, including early neuroschistosomiasis, may therefore still develop during this 5-week window after exposure, despite early praziquantel administration.

Artemether has shown promising activity against schistosomules (8). Repeated administration throughout the transmission season has prevented Katayama syndrome in S. japonicum infection (9). Its use, singly or in combination with praziquantel, should be investigated as true postexposure prophylaxis for primary schistosomal infection in nonimmune travelers (10).


(1.) Pittella JE, Lana-Peixato MA. Brain involvement in hepatosplenic schistosomiasis mansoni. Brain. 1981;104:621-32.

(2.) Granier H, Potard M, Diraison P, Nicolas X, Laborde JP, Tlarmin F. Acute encephalitis concurrent with primary infection by Schistosoma mansoni. Med Trop (Mars). 2003 ;63:60-3.

(3.) Ferrari TC, Moreira PR, Cunha AS. Spinal cord schistosomiasis: a prospective study of 63 cases emphasizing clinical and therapeutic aspects. J Clin Neurosci. 2004;11: 246-53.

(4.) Silva LCS LCS - Language for Communicating Systems , Maciel PE, Ribas JGR JGR Joe Gibbs Racing
JGR Journal of Geophysical Research
JGR Jet Grind Radio (video game; American release name of Sega's Jet Set Radio) 
, Souza-Pereira SR, Natunes CM, Lambertucci JR. Treatment of schistosomal myeloradiculopathy with praziquantel and corticosteroids and evaluation by magnetic resonance imaging magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), noninvasive diagnostic technique that uses nuclear magnetic resonance to produce cross-sectional images of organs and other internal body structures. : a longitudinal study. Clin Infect Dis. 2004;39:1618-24.

(5.) Nascimento-Carvalho CM, Moreno-Carvalho OA. Clinical and cerebrospinal fluid findings in patients less than 20 years old with a presumptive diagnosis of neuroschistosomiasis. J Trop Pediatr. 2004;50: 98-100.

(6.) Naus CW, Chipwete J, Visser LG, Zijlstra EE, van Lieshout L. The contribution made by Schistosoma infection to non-traumatic disorders of the spinal cord in Malawi. Ann Trop Med Parasitol. 2003;97:711-21.

(7.) Grandiere-Perez L, Ansart S, Paris L, Faussart A, Jaureguiberry S, Grivois B, et al. Efficacy of praziquantel during the incubation and invasive phase of Schistosoma hematobium schistosomiasis in 18 travelers. Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2006;74:814-8.

(8.) Xiao S, Tanner M, N'Goran EK, Utzinger J, Chollet J, Bergquist R, et al. Recent investigations of artemether, a novel agent for the prevention of schistosomiasis japonica japonica (jəpŏn`əkə): see quince; camellia. , mansoni and haematobia. Acta Trop. 2002;82:175-81.

(9.) Li YS, Chen HG, He HB, Hou XY, Ellis M, McManus DE A double-blind field trial on the effects of artemether on Schistosoma japonicum infection in a highly endemic focus in southern China. Acta Trop. 2005 ;96:184-90.

(10.) Utzinger J, Keiser J, Shuhua X, Tanner M, Singer BH. Combination chemotherapy of schistosomiasis in laboratory studies and clinical trials. Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2003;47:1487-95.

Jan Clerinx, * Alfons van Gompel, * Lut Lynen, * and Berten Ceulemans ([dagger])

* Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium; and ([dagger]) University Hospital Antwerp, Edegem, Belgium

Address for correspondence: Jan Clerinx, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Nationalestraat 155, B-2000 Antwerp, Belgium; email:
Table. Evolution of acute neuroschistosomiasis in 12-year-old boy
after treatment

Parameter                           Day 0                Day 45

Neurologic symptoms                Present       Present but diminished
Eosinophil count
  (per [mm.sup.3])                  3,080                1,030
Schistosoma ELISA              Weakly positive      Weakly positive
Schistosoma indirect
  assay (antibody titer)          Negative                640
Urine microscopic analysis         Normal            Not available
Urine concentration test for
  schistosomal eggs             Not available        Not available
Feces concentration test for
  schistosomal eggs             Not available        Not available

Parameter                         Month 10

Neurologic symptoms                Absent
Eosinophil count
  (per [mm.sup.3])                   370
Schistosoma ELISA                 Negative
Schistosoma indirect
  assay (antibody titer)             80
Urine microscopic analysis         Normal
Urine concentration test for
  schistosomal eggs               Negative
Feces concentration test for
  schistosomal eggs               Negative
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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Ceulemans, Berten
Publication:Emerging Infectious Diseases
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Previous Article:Spring scrub typhus, people's Republic of China.
Next Article:Murine typhus from Vietnam, imported into Japan.

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