Monday, October 14, 2019

Case of the Week 564

This week's case was donated by Blaine Mathison and Marc Couturier. The following forms were seen on peripheral blood smears. No travel history is available at this time. How would you recommend reporting out this case? Are there any additional studies you would recommend?

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Answer to Case 564

Answer: Mixed Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium falciparum infection.

This was a very nice clear-cut example of a mixed infection. Often they aren't this clear cut! Thanks to everyone who wrote in with the very nice morphologic descriptions supporting the diagnosis.

Santiago noted that "The first five images show many diagnostic morphologic features: the infected RBCs are enlarged, they have an oval shape with jagged edges (fimbriations), Sch├╝ffner's dots (fine cytoplasmic stippling) are present in their cytoplasm, and infecting trophozoites are compact; these features are consistent with infection by Plasmodium ovale.

The last two images show banana-shaped gametocytes which are diagnostic of Plasmodium falciparum.

My follow-up question was regarding which additional studies, if any, would be recommended. In this case, the morphology is very convincing, and so diagnostic PCR is likely not needed.  However, it was available in this case, and confirmed the diagnosis of P. falciparum and P. ovale mixed infection. Several of you also correctly noted that quantification of parasitemia is also indicated to guide therapy.

Finally, knowing more about the patient would be important to direct patient care. Information to gather would include where the patient had traveled (to determine if there is circulating resistance to commonly-used antimalarials) and if prior antimalarial therapy had been administered. The fact that only P. falciparum gametocytes were present may indicate that the patient had received prior therapy, since the drugs commonly used to treat P. falciparum are not gametocidal. Thus seeing residual P. falciparum gametocytes is not uncommon after successful treatment.  Now that we know that the patient has P. ovale co-infection, primaquine (or tafenoquine) must be administered to eradicate its hypnotzoite stage (dormant stage in the liver).

Thanks again to Marc and Blaine for donating this case.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Case of the Week 563

It's time for our first case of the month by Idzi Potters and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp.   The patient is a 50 yo Belgian patient returning from Italy with intestinal complaints coughs up the following worm:


Sunday, October 6, 2019

Answer to Case 563

Answer to Parasite Case of the Week 563: Anisakid larva, not Anisakis species.

As noted by Marc Couturier, this case has a "very nice and clearly defined intestinal caecum [or 'cecum' for my United States readers]. Lips are visible on the worm and the general size would point again to an Anisakidae member. Coughing up and the abdominal pain are helpful clinical correlates as well." Blaine also added some helpful information regarding the diagnostic features of anisakids: "Based on the anteriorly-directed cecum, this is either Pseudoterranova or Contracaecum. Unfortunately it is not possible to definitively tell from the image if a posterior ventricular appendix is present (Contracaecum) or absent (Pseudoterranova). Anisakis species lack both." He also noted that all 3 genera may have an anterior boring tooth.

The arrow in the following image points to the anteriorly-facing cecum.

Thanks again to Idzi for donating this beautiful case. I thought that it nicely complimented last week's case, which had a nice clinical (endoscopy) image but lacked a view of the defining morphologic features.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Case of the Week 562

This week's case was generously donated by Dr. David Hernandez Gonzalo. The patient is a middle-aged male who presented with abdominal discomfort and nausea. An endoscopy was performed which revealed the following object in the gastric antrum:
The worm was sent to pathology and was sectioned, revealing the following (H&E):

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Answer to Case 562

Answer to Parasite Case of the Week 562: Likely anisakid, given the gross and microscopic appearance and position in the body. This also fits with the clinical history that I held back - this patient was an avid sushi lover!

From the gross image, you can tell that this is a roundworm, and that it appears to be embedded in the gastric mucosa:
You can also see that the caliber of the worm is similar throughout its length. That, as well as the location (stomach), make Trichuris trichiura unlikely. The longer length also allows us to rule out Enterobius vermicularis and the hookworms (which admittedly would also be unlikely in the stomach).

The microscopy is a bit harder to interpret, given that we only have a portion of the worm to examine. What we can make out, however, is the thick eosinophilic cuticle, tall coelomyarian musculature with multiple muscle cells (polymyarian), the intestinal tract that runs the length of the visible portion of the section, and the lack of reproductive structures, which are consistent with an L3 anisakid larva:
I believe that the netting like structure is a section through the muscle cells. We unfortunately can't see the lateral cords (best seen in cross-section) and additional features that would help us identify the anisakid to the genus level (e.g., cecum). This brings us to the conclusion that we always draw from this case, which is to send the worm to the microbiology lab and not the surgical pathology bench!

From Blaine:

Why are pathologists so quick to slice-and-dice
When a diagnosis would be much more precise
If they just left it intact
and the microbiologists have a whack
Alas now a diagnosis is a roll of the dice

Monday, September 23, 2019

Case of the Week 561

This week's case features photos and videos from my fabulous Technical Specialists, Heather Arguello and Emily Fernholz. The following were seen in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Identification?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Answer to Case 561

Answer to Parasite Case of the Week 561: Strongyloides stercoralis L3 (filariform) larvae.

As noted by Florida Fan, the notched tail is clearly shown in this case. Indeed, this is the best example I've ever seen. The notched tail can be used to differentiate the L3 larvae of S. stercoralis with those of hookworm (the latter has a pointed tail).
Old One also pointed out that the filariform esophagus reaches to the midpoint of the S. stercoralis L3 larva. In comparison, the esophagus only reaches to ~1/3 of the hookworm L3 larva. (The CDC has a nice schematic of these differences which you can view HERE.) I can't tell if the background cells in the current case are eosinophils, but peripheral and local eosinophilia are common features of strongyloidiasis.

BW in VT noted that the patient may have acquired infection years ago, and maintained infection via ongoing autoinfection. This is an important component of the S. stercoralis life cycle, as it allows for infection to persist for decades. Should the patient become immunocompromised, the ongoing infection can produce a hyperinfection state, leading to severe morbidity and possible death.

From Blaine: Silly stringy Strongyloides stercoralis stealthily slithers in sputum, spied by sensational Specialists.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Case of the Week 560

This week's case is a composite photo I created for my 2019 calendar for the month of September. The accompanying questions are:

  1. What is the parasite shown? (measure ~60 micrometers long)
  2. Why is this a suitable parasite for September?
  3. What is the significance of the other objects in the picture? 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Answer to Case 560

Answer to Parasite Case of the Week 560: "Back to school" pinworm

This fun image had a question in 3 parts:
  1. What is the parasite shown? Eggs of Enterobius vermicularis
  2. Why is this a suitable parasite for September? September is the time that kids go back to school in America, and thus are more likely to obtain easily-transmitted parasites such as pinworm and head lice. As Nema noted, pinworm is "a parasite that is transmitted efficiently at the start of the school year because the embryonated eggs easily pass from the hands (unwashed) from one child to another and can also pass through the fomites"
  3. What is the significance of the other objects in the picture? The backpack full of school supplies gives you the "back-to-school" link, whereas the tape refers to the cellulose tape method in which clear (not frosted!) tape is applied to the perianal skin folds to collect eggs (and occasionally adult females) that may be present. This test is commonly called the "Scotch" tape test in the U.S. after a common brand of tape; in the UK, it may be referred to as the Sellotape method - another common local brand.
In my lab, we prefer to use a plastic paddle with an adhesive surface to more efficiently and safely sample the perianal skin (a.k.a. the 'bum paddle' according to Marc). The paddle is easily transported to the lab inside the accompanying tube, and can then be examined directly under the microscope. The Graham test is another commercial collection method available in Europe.