Strongyloides stercoralis: An Initial Autoinfective Burst Amplifies Primary Infection

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  • Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Compartmental analysis of Strongyloides stercoralis burdens in experimentally infected, serially necropsied dogs was used to test an autoinfective burst hypothesis. The hypothesis states that in well-established, active infections and in chronic infections as well, the rate of larval development is down-regulated so that most larvae do not attain infectivity internally. The majority pass in the feces as preinfective, rhabditiform larvae, but a few (those with the most rapid developmental rate) attain infectivity internally, and therefore are positioned for autoinfectivity. In contrast, in immunologically naive hosts, larval development proceeds without host hindrance and many larvae, proceeding at the most rapid rate of a spectrum of normal intrinsic developmental rates, attain infectivity internally. For a brief period, hyperinfection occurs, during which the adult worm population increases sharply. Gut-level resistance soon occurs, larval development is retarded, and an increasing proportion of larvae are discharged as preinfective rhabditiform larvae. With fewer larvae developing to infectivity internally, recruitment into the adult population decreases, with an attendant increase in the mean age and a gradual decrease in the size of the adult population. The data and the attendant model strongly support this autoinfective burst hypothesis.