Medical Definition of Gnathostomiasis

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Gnathostomiasis: A disease due to the migration of an immature roundworm called Gnathostoma. Migration just under the skin causes migratory, painful, itchy swellings. Migration to other tissues can result in cough, blood in the urine, eye involvement and, most seriously, meningitis and encephalitis.

People become infected by eating undercooked fish or poultry or drinking water containing the worm's larvae. Once mainly in Asia, this worm has emerged as an important parasite in Mexico. Removal and identification of the worm is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Treatment is surgical removal and use of the antiparasitic drug albendazole.

Reviewed on 9/7/2018

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