Restaging Pulmonary Schistosomiasis

Federico Gobbi Department of Infectious-Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS-Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Verona, Italy;

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Dora Buonfrate Department of Infectious-Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS-Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Verona, Italy;

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Andrea Angheben Department of Infectious-Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS-Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Verona, Italy;

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Zeno Bisoffi Department of Infectious-Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS-Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Verona, Italy;
Department of Diagnostics and Public Health, University of Verona, Verona, Italy

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Schistosomiasis is traditionally classified into an acute and a chronic phase, although a precise temporal distinction between the two phases has not been established. Lung involvement can be observed in both phases. We previously reported seven cases of pulmonary lesions due to chronic schistosomiasis in African immigrants. All cases were documented with CT scans and demonstrated complete resolution after treatment with praziquantel. Moreover, another case showed spontaneous disappearance of the nodule before treatment with praziquantel. These findings are similar to those observed in the acute phase of schistosomiasis, with well-defined or ground glass nodules that resolve spontaneously. According to these findings, we postulate the presence of an “intermediate” phase of schistosomiasis involving the lungs that can be defined as an “early chronic phase,” and presents analogies to the acute phase. We also hypothesize that in the “early chronic phase,” the female worms transit through the lungs where they may lay eggs. These passages not only cause transient, but also radiologically visible alterations. The pathophysiology of lung lesions in the late chronic phase is probably different: the adult worms settled in the mesenteric plexuses produce eggs for years. The eggs repeatedly migrate to the perialveolar capillary beds via portal-caval shunting. Thus, in this case it is the eggs and not the adult worms that reach the lungs in a scattered way. Based on our findings, we suggest the alternative hypothesis that the pulmonary involvement is a phase of the natural evolution of the infection, both from Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma haematobium.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Federico Gobbi, Department of Infectious-Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Via Sempreboni 5, Verona 37024, Italy. E-mail: federico.gobbi@sacrocuore.it

Authors’ addresses: Federico Gobbi, Dora Buonfrate, and Andrea Angheben, Department of Infectious-Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS-Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Verona, Italy, E-mails: federico.gobbi@sacrocuore.it, dora.buonfrate@sacrocuore.it, and andrea.angheben@sacrocuore.it. Zeno Bisoffi, Department of Infectious-Tropical Diseases and Microbiology, IRCCS-Sacro Cuore Don Calabria Hospital, Verona, Italy, and Department of Diagnostics and Public Health, University of Verona, Verona, Italy, E-mail: zeno.bisoffi@sacrocuore.it.

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