Roundworm infections threaten organ recipients

April 11, 2013
Roundworm infections threaten organ recipients
CDC reports on three patients who were sickened by infected donor.

(HealthDay)—Three people who received transplant organs in 2012 from the same 24-year-old donor got more than they bargained for: Each developed a severe roundworm infection, U.S. health officials reported Thursday.

The transplant recipients acquired Strongyloides, an infection caused by an intestinal parasite common in the tropics and subtropics known as S. stercoralis. The infection apparently was transmitted from the donated organ to the recipients, according to a report from the U.S. .

The discovery could lead to new guidelines for organ transplantations, the report suggested. Doctors currently recommend screening recipients for Strongyloides if they come from areas where the are widespread, but this report suggests a need to screen donors as well.

"Donor-derived Strongyloides infection might be more common than previously believed," the CDC report said. "In these investigations, a single donor was the source of infection for three of four ."

If screening identifies donor infection, of vulnerable recipients can begin, the CDC said in its April 12 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Organ recipients are at high risk of serious infection because of the immune-system-suppressing drugs they take to fight rejection of their new organ.

Among healthy people, the roundworm infection can present no symptoms, but experts believe the might reactivate chronic infection in the transplanted organs.

The donor in this case died of . The next day, his heart, kidneys, pancreas and liver were transplanted into four recipients. The donor was born in Puerto Rico and often visited there, but at the time of donation Strongyloides was not suspected. That's probably because most cases in North America are seen in people who have visited or lived in South America or Africa, the CDC report said.

One of the recipients, a 64-year-old man, developed severe nausea, loss of appetite and abdominal swelling nine weeks after receiving a pancreas and kidney. Stool samples, urine samples and biopsies uncovered S. stercoralis—both adult worms and larvae.

Doctors then followed up with a 14-year-old kidney recipient 10 weeks after his transplant and found he had a fever, rash, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Testing revealed that he, too, had the roundworm infection.

Both recovered after treatment with antiparasitic medications.

But a heart recipient who was found to have S. stercoralis larvae in his respiratory system died 11 weeks after his transplant. The CDC report didn't state, however, that the infection caused the 59-year-old's death. The liver recipient, 66, also died, but an autopsy showed no signs of the parasitic infection.

Besides donor screening for Strongyloides, the CDC recommended improved communication to protect transplant patients.

"Rapid communication among transplant centers and organ-procurement organizations is also vital to protect organ recipients when there is a concern for disease transmission," the report stated.

Explore further: US organ transplant patient dies of rabies

More information: The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about Strongyloides.

Related Stories

US organ transplant patient dies of rabies

March 15, 2013
A person in the northeastern state of Maryland who recently died of rabies was found to have contracted the illness from an organ transplant done over a year ago, US health officials said Friday.

CDC: Rabies no longer threat to three organ recipients

April 2, 2013
Federal public health officials say three people who received organs from a rabies-infected donor in 2011 are no longer in danger of coming down with the deadly disease.

Low levels of donor-specific antibodies increase risks for transplant recipients

November 15, 2012
Kidney transplant recipients who have even very low levels of preformed antibodies directed against a donated kidney have a significantly increased risk of organ rejection and kidney failure, according to a study appearing ...

Recommended for you

Flu may be spread just by breathing, new study shows; coughing and sneezing not required

January 18, 2018
It is easier to spread the influenza virus (flu) than previously thought, according to a new University of Maryland-led study released today. People commonly believe that they can catch the flu by exposure to droplets from ...

New approach could help curtail hospitalizations due to influenza infection

January 18, 2018
More than 700,000 Americans were hospitalized due to illnesses associated with the seasonal flu during the 2014-15 flu season, according to federal estimates. A radical new approach to vaccine development at UCLA may help ...

Certain flu virus mutations may compensate for fitness costs of other mutations

January 18, 2018
Seasonal flu viruses continually undergo mutations that help them evade the human immune system, but some of these mutations can reduce a virus's potency. According to new research published in PLOS Pathogens, certain mutations ...

Zika virus damages placenta, which may explain malformed babies

January 18, 2018
Though the Zika virus is widely known for a recent outbreak that caused children to be born with microencephaly, or having a small head, and other malformations, scientists have struggled to explain how the virus affects ...

Study reveals how MRSA infection compromises lymphatic function

January 17, 2018
Infections of the skin or other soft tissues with the hard-to-treat MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) bacteria appear to permanently compromise the lymphatic system, which is crucial to immune system function. ...

Fresh approach to tuberculosis vaccine offers better protection

January 17, 2018
A unique platform that resulted in a promising HIV vaccine has also led to a new, highly effective vaccine against tuberculosis that is moving toward testing in humans.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.