High Rate of Failure in Treatment of Imported Schistosomiasis
Article first published online: 18 JAN 2010
© 2010 International Society of Travel Medicine
Journal of Travel Medicine
Volume 17, Issue 2, pages 94–99, March/April 2010
How to Cite
Helleberg, M. and Thybo, S. (2010), High Rate of Failure in Treatment of Imported Schistosomiasis. Journal of Travel Medicine, 17: 94–99. doi: 10.1111/j.1708-8305.2009.00387.x
- Issue published online: 1 MAR 2010
- Article first published online: 18 JAN 2010
Background. There is an increasing number of imported cases of schistosomiasis in Europe, but there are only few studies on the efficacy of praziquantel for the treatment of schistosomiasis in non-endemic settings.
Methods. Patients treated for schistosomiasis in 2003 to 2008 were offered reexamination with serology, eosinophil count, IgE, microscopy of 24 h urine samples and/or rectal biopsies >3 months after treatment. All patients had been treated with at least one dose of praziquantel 40 to 60 mg/kg >12 weeks after exposure and had not been reexposed to schistosomiasis after treatment.
Results. Twenty-eight traveler (15 tourists and 13 expatriates) and two immigrants were reexamined after treatment. Viable ova were detected in six traveler (20%). Ova were found in 5/23 (22%) rectal biopsies and in 2/12 (17%) urine samples. Treatment failure was suspected in a symptomatic patient who 2 years after treatment had eightfold rise in antibody titer and elevated IgE but no detectable ova in urine or rectal biopsies. Additional 13 patients had one or more parameters, which could indicate persistent infection.
There were no significant differences in eosinophil count, IgE or, change in antibody titer between patients with versus without detectable ova after treatment.
Conclusions. In traveler with a low parasite burden, assessment of treatment results can be difficult because of the low sensitivity of microscopy and persistence of antibodies for several years after treatment. We found a high rate of treatment failure among traveler, indicating that nonimmune patients may need more than the recommended single day of treatment for eradication of parasites. Until more sensitive and specific methods for detection of persistent, active infection are available, repeated treatment should be considered in patients with continuous symptoms or other indications of treatment failure even when viable ova cannot be detected by microscopy.