Natural History of Schistosoma mansoni Infection in Mice: Egg Production, Egg Passage in the Feces, and Contribution of Host and Parasite Death to Changes in Worm Numbers

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  • Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Engineering, Swarthmore College, Bethesda, Maryland

Mice, C57Bl/6N (B6) and BALB/cAnN (BALB), infected with Schistosoma mansoni were examined 8–26 weeks postinfection (PI) to estimate the fecundity of the worms and the contribution of death of worms and the death of heavily infected mice to the decrease in worm numbers in chronic infections. Portal worms were recovered by perfusion and the lungs were examined for parasites shunted from the portal circulation. Animals that died were more heavily infected than those that survived. Between eight and 12 weeks PI, this loss of worms resulted in a net decrease of approximately 19% of worm pairs in surviving BALB mice, but of only 4% in B6 mice. Loss of portal worms to the lungs after the eighth week of infection was 9–13% of portal worms in BALB mice and 3–4% in B6 mice. The estimated rates of egg production by S. mansoni decreased slightly with time in both strains of mice. At 12 and 20 weeks PI, tissue eggs per worm pair and eggs passed in the feces per worm pair often decreased as the intensity of infection increased. We do not consider the loss of worms in the murine host relevant to most infections in humans because of the high intensity of infection relative to body size in mice and the high frequency of severe portal obstruction in murine infections.

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