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Angiostrongylus cantonensis: a review of its distribution, molecular biology and clinical significance as a human pathogen

  • JOEL BARRATT (a1) (a2), DOUGLAS CHAN (a1) (a2) (a3), INDY SANDARADURA (a3) (a4), RICHARD MALIK (a5), DEREK SPIELMAN (a6), ROGAN LEE (a7), DEBORAH MARRIOTT (a3), JOHN HARKNESS (a3), JOHN ELLIS (a2) and DAMIEN STARK (a3)...

Summary

Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a metastrongyloid nematode found widely in the Asia-Pacific region, and the aetiological agent of angiostrongyliasis; a disease characterized by eosinophilic meningitis. Rattus rats are definitive hosts of A. cantonensis, while intermediate hosts include terrestrial and aquatic molluscs. Humans are dead-end hosts that usually become infected upon ingestion of infected molluscs. A presumptive diagnosis is often made based on clinical features, a history of mollusc consumption, eosinophilic pleocytosis in cerebral spinal fluid, and advanced imaging such as computed tomography. Serological tests are available for angiostrongyliasis, though many tests are still under development. While there is no treatment consensus, therapy often includes a combination of anthelmintics and corticosteroids. Angiostrongyliasis is relatively rare, but is often associated with morbidity and sometimes mortality. Recent reports suggest the parasites’ range is increasing, leading to fatalities in regions previously considered Angiostrongylus-free, and sometimes, delayed diagnosis in newly invaded regions. Increased awareness of angiostrongyliasis would facilitate rapid diagnosis and improved clinical outcomes. This paper summarizes knowledge on the parasites’ life cycle, clinical aspects and epidemiology. The molecular biology of Angiostrongylus spp. is also discussed. Attention is paid to the significance of angiostrongyliasis in Australia, given the recent severe cases reported from the Sydney region.

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Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: University of Technology Sydney, School of Life Sciences/iThree Institute, PO Box 123 Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia. E-mail: joel.barratt-1@uts.edu.au

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These authors contributed equally to this manuscript.

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References

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