Strongyloides stercoralis

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Strongyloides stercoralis, also known as the threadworm, is the scientific name of a human parasitic roundworm causing the disease of strongyloidiasis.

Strongyloides stercoralis is a nematode that can parasitize humans. The adult parasitic stage lives in tunnels in the mucosa of the small intestine. The genus Strongyloides contains 53 species[1][2] and S. stercoralis is the type species. S. stercoralis has been reported in other mammals, including cats and dogs. However, it seems that the species in dogs is typically not S. stercoralis, but the related species S. canis. Non-human primates are more commonly infected with S. fuelleborni and S. cebus although S. stercoralis has been reported in captive primates. Other species of Strongyloides naturally parasitic in humans, but with restricted distributions, are S. fuelleborni in central Africa and S. kellyi in Papua New Guinea.

In American usage, Strongyloides is usually called threadworm; in British usage, however, threadworm may refer to Enterobius while Strongyloides is called pinworm.[3]


Geographic distribution

S. stercoralis has a very low prevalence in societies where fecal contamination of soil or water is rare. Hence, it is a very rare infection in developed economies. In developing countries it is less prevalent in urban areas than in rural areas (where sanitation standards are poor). S. stercoralis can be found in areas with tropical and subtropical climates. [4]

Strongyloidiasis was first described in the nineteenth century in French soldiers returning home from expeditions in IndoChina. Today, the countries of the old IndoChina (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos) still have endemic strongyloidiasis, typical prevalences being 10% or less. Regions of Japan used to have endemic strongyloidiasis, but control programs have eliminated the disease. Strongyloidiasis appears to have a high prevalence in some areas of Brazil and Central America. Strongyloidiasis is endemic in Africa, but the prevalence is typically low (1% or less). Pockets of strongyloidiasis have been reported from rural Italy, but current status is unknown. In the Pacific islands strongyloidiasis is rare although there have been reports of cases from Fiji. In tropical Australia, some rural and remote Australian Aboriginal communities have very high prevalences of strongyloidiasis[5] . In some African countries (e.g., Zaire) S. fuelleborni was more common than S. stercoralis in parasite surveys from the 1970s, but current status is unknown. In Papua New Guinea, S. stercoralis is endemic, but prevalence is low. However, in some areas another species, S. kellyi,[6] is a very common parasite of children in the PNG highlands and Western Province.[7]

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