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Five normal human volunteers were exposed to approximately 50 infective larvae of Necator americanus and were observed for the development of clinical signs or symptoms and for changes in blood eosinophil levels, IgG antibody titers, total and parasite-specific IgE, and lymphocyte blastogenic responses for 6–10 weeks. Bronchoalveolar lavage was performed on four subjects prior to infection and at times when larval migration through the pulmonary tree was likely.
Eggs were demonstrated in the stools of four volunteers who remained untreated for more than 6 weeks; one volunteer had to be treated at day 40 because of severe gastrointestinal symptoms. All others also complained of abdominal pain and flatulence between days 35–40.
All volunteers developed marked blood eosinophilia which peaked between days 38–64 and ranged from 1,350–3,828 eosinophils/mm3. Small increases in total and parasite-specific IgE and IgG were noted in some volunteers. One volunteer showed a significant lymphocyte blastogenic response. With the exception of mucosal erythema, bronchoalveolar lavage results were unremarkable.
Our data indicate that a single small inoculum of hookworm larvae is capable of producing significant transient gastrointestinal morbidity and marked blood eosinophilia but does not induce other prominent T cell- and B cell-dependent immune responses.