Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Case of the Week 750

This week's case is an interesting challenge! It was donated by Drs. David Sullivan and Ted Nash. The patient is a young girl from Ethiopia with intermittent GI distress. Her parents said that she had passed several ovoid objects per rectum. One of these objects was submitted for histologic sectioning and revealed the following.




A stool parasite exam also revealed the following. 

Based on these findings, what is your diagnosis?


Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Case of the Week 749

This week's case features photos and videos from my lab, courtesy of Ms. Heather Morris and Felicity Norrie. The following object (which was still moving!) was submitted for identification. No history was provided, unfortunately. What do you think it is? (Be as specific as possible). What additional steps could you take to confirm your presumptive identification?








Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Answer to Case 749

 Answer to the Parasite Case of the Week 749: Adult tapeworm in the family Diphyllobothriidae (Diphyllobothrid), a.k.a., the broad fish tapeworm 🐟. 

As astutely noted by Idzi Potters, "The proglottids of this tapeworm are gravid - the brown central points represent large numbers of dark eggs concentrated in a centrally positioned uterus. As the gravid proglottids are craspedote and wider than they are long, this points towards a Diphyllobothriid tapeworm (possibly Dibothriocephalus). An easy way to confirm this is to cut open a proglottid and expel some of the typical eggs. But for exact species determination, molecular tools should be deployed."

We didn't perform molecular testing to determine the exact genus and species, but we did confirm the worm's identity by expelling some of the eggs from the uterus. They looked something like the eggs from this previous case of the week.

Blaine and I described the current status of known Diphyllobothrids to infect humans in our chapter on Parasites of the Gastrointestinal Tract:

"The species implicated in human disease, and their current taxonomic status and broad geographic distributions, are Adenocephalus pacificus (southern South America, southern Asia), Dibothriocephalus latus (Holarctic), D. nihonkaiensis (Asian Pacific, eastern Russia, Pacific Northwest), D. dendriticus (Holarctic), D. dalliae (Alaska and Siberia), D. ursi (North America), Diphyllobothrium stemmacephalum (circumpolar), and D. balaenopterae (circumpolar). Two additional species implicated in human disease, “Diphyllobothriumcordatum and “D.lanceolatum, both circumpolar in distribution, are tentatively placed in Diphyllobothrium but will probably undergo generic transfer in the future (Kuchta et al., 2015; Waeschenbach et al., 2017)." As several of you have pointed out, Diphyllobothrium latum is now Dibothriocephalus latus 😊.

Like most cases that we receive in our lab, we sadly didn't receive the travel history for the patient, and therefore we can't make any guesses as to the identity of this tapeworm based on known distributions. 

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Case of the Week 748

 We are now shifting gears from microfilariae to something completely different. These organisms were found in a small pond in Minnesota. What are they? Be as specific as possible.






Saturday, May 18, 2024

Answer to Case 748

Answer to Parasite Case of the Week 748: Culicine mosquito larvae and pupae.

The mosquito life cycle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. Larvae and pupae are aquatic, so water source control is an important component of mosquito control programs. The larvae (commonly called wrigglers) feed on microorganisms such as plankton, algae, bacteria, and fungi; some even eat other mosquito larvae! 

Culicine larvae (including Culex and Aedes species) breathe oxygen through a respiratory siphon and may be seen 'hanging' from the surface of the water. Anopheline larvae (Anopheles species), in comparison, do not have siphons. They lie horizontally to the water surface and breathe through respiratory spiracles. 

You can further identify mosquito larvae using keys such as the CDC Pictorial keys for arthropods, reptiles, birds, and mammals of public health significance (page 138).

Mosquito pupae (commonly called tumblers) are also seen in this case. They do not eat and have a rapid tumbling motility which allows them to avoid predators. They breathe through two tubes from the surface of the water. 

If allowed to mature, the adult mosquito will emerge from the pupal case within a few days. Female mosquitoes from most species will seek out a blood meal to support egg production, and are capable of transmitting a variety of viruses and parasites to humans in the process.  Lymphatic filariasis and malaria are important parasitic diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.



Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Case of the Week 747

Welcome back to the very end of our microfilariae block with Idzi Potters and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp! We are going to end with a very special and somewhat unusual case. The patient is an elderly man with recent travel to Senegal who had a 10-cm round worm removed from the conjunctiva of his left eye (!). Blood obtained around the same time revealed the following microfilariae measuring >200 micrometers long: 


What is your diagnosis?

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Answer to Case 747

 Answer: Dirofilaria sp. microfilariae

This is the perfect challenge for the end of our microfilariae series! The history of finding a worm in the eye will usually make us think of Loa loa (indeed, this case was initially misdiagnosed as such), but the location of the patient (Senegal) and the unique features of the microfilariae are important clues to the actual diagnosis. You can read all about this cases HERE. I've seen a number of cases of nematodes removed from the eye - particularly from India - that were misdiagnosed as Loa loa but actually represented Dirofilaria. Adult worms from these parasites can be differentiated by size (Loa loa has a maximum length of ~7 cm, whereas Dirofilaria can be 10+ cm) and features of their cuticle. Case of the Week 513 shows the differences in cuticle nicely.  

Dirofilaria repens rarely releases microfilariae in humans, making this case particularly unique! Idzi and I both noted the interesting nuclear pattern within the microfilariae - being rather swirly with two elongated nuclei at the tip:

Thanks again to Idzi and ITM Antwerp for sharing this amazing series of cases. Next week we will move onto something entirely different 😊.


Monday, April 22, 2024

Case of the Week 746

Welcome back to our microfilariae block from Idzi Potters and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp! We are down to the last TWO specimens. This week's case is from a skin specimen - both skin samples AND a subcutaneous nodule (removed from the upper arm). The patient is a young man from Brazil.

Here is the nodule:

And here are the skin scarification specimens (read more about scarification vs. skin snips HERE):

Carazzi stain:



Giemsa stain:

The microfilariae are approximately 300 micrometers in length. What is your diagnosis?

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Answer to Case 746

Answer to the Parasite Case of the Week 746: Onchocerca volvulus microfilariae

This case nicely contrasts with Case 745 which shows the significantly smaller microfilariae of Mansonella perstans. Both are found in skin snips and skin scarification samples. Note that the nuclei do not go to the tail of O. volvulus as they do with M. streptocerca. 

Another great feature of this case is that Idzi included an image of a resected onchocercoma - the subcutaneous nodule containing the adult filariae:

Onchocerciasis, also known as river blindness, is a devastating disease found in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. It is classified as a neglected tropical disease by the World Health Organization. 


Monday, April 15, 2024

Case of the Week 745

We have moved onto microfilariae found in SKIN specimens - what fun! There are only a couple to choose from. Can you tell which one this is? The microfilariae are approximately 200 micrometers long.

Carazzi stain


Giemsa stain: