Epidemiologic Studies of Eosinophilic Meningitis in Southern Taiwan

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  • Kaohsiung Medical College, U. S. Naval Medical Research Unit, Pacific Research Section, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

A study of the epidemiologic characteristics of 125 cases of eosinophilic meningitis or meningoencephalitis, probably caused by Angiostrongylus cantonensis, which occurred in southern Taiwan in 1968 and 1969 revealed a close association of the disease with the rainy season. In contrast to findings in other geographic areas, most such cases in this study occurred among children. A higher attack rate was observed among aborigines than among descendants of mainland Chinese. Most patients had eaten the giant African snail, Achatina fulica, prior to their illness and this mollusc was commonly found infected with third-stage larvae of A. cantonensis. However, in almost all instances the snail was eaten after it had been thoroughly cooked and examination of cooked snail meat revealed only dead larvae. It it suspected that patients became infected by inadvertently ingesting A. cantonensis larvae liberated when the snails were prepared for consumption.