Welcome to the Online Parasitological Center for Gnathostomiasis.




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            Infrequently encountered in the United States, gnathostomiasis is usually found in Southeast Asia and Latin America. The disease is caused by the parasitic, helminthic roundworm Gnathostoma. Globally, Gnathostoma spinigerum is the most common agent of disease. However, there are many species of Gnathostoma and G. doloresi, G. hispidum, and G. nipponicum have also been implicated in cases of human gnathostomiasis throughout the world (Camacho et al. 1998). There are a variety of names used to describe gnathostomiasis, including: larva migrans profundus, nodular migratory eosinophilic panniculitis, Yangtze River edema, consular disease, Shanghai’s rheumatism, and Woodbury bug (Rusnak and Lucey 1993).

            A strong tie exists between food preparation practices and incidence of gnathostomiasis. Transmission occurs with the consumption of raw or semi-cooked fish, poultry, or pork (Ibid). Cooking these foods at high temperature can kill off any Gnathostoma larvae present. In many regions with endemic Gnathostoma, there is low social awareness regarding ways to prevent gnathostomiasis. Also, the cultures with the highest incidence of gnathostomiasis are those that value raw fish as a traditional food dish, such as seviche in Ecuador (Feinstein and Rodriguez-Valdes 1984).  

            In medical literature, the first clinical diagnosis of human gnathostomiasis took place in 1889 in Thailand (Ibid). Researchers initially thought gnathostomiasis was only endemic to Asia. The discovery of cases in Latin America and Mexico in the 1970s showed that gnathostomiasis is a global phenomenon (Ogata et al. 1998). Over the past century, the number of species known to infect humans has risen from one to four and diagnostic measures for the disease have improved. As the geographic boundaries to the movement of people throughout the world break down with increasing access to international travel, gnathostomiasis may be recognized as an emerging health issue.

Click here for a listing of all published cases of gnathostomiasis up to 1991.

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