Loiasis

Introduction 

Loiasis is a chronic filarial disease caused by infection with Loa loa (African eye worm) 

-the disease is found in the rainforests of West and Central Africa

-it is transmitted by the bite of the deer fly or mango fly called Chrysops 

-Infected larvae deposited by the bite of the deer fly crawl into the skin and develop into adults which migrate subcutaneously. Females produce microfilariae, which enter the blood 

-it is the adult worm rather than the microfilariae which produce clinical manifestations 

Symptoms & Signs 

Many infected persons are asymptomatic 

Skin: the characteristic finding of loiasis is the Calabar swelling, localized subcutaneous area of angioedema, erythema, pain and pruritis developing on the extremities due to migration of adult worms through subcutaneous tissues 

Eye: Adult worms crawling across the conjunctiva of the eye, scary but no loss of vision 

Blood: Peripheral eosinophilia, leukocytosis and elevated IgE levels 

Diagnosis 

Detection of microfilariae in the blood: peak circulation between 10 A.M and 2:00 P.M; so a daytime blood smear should be obtained 

Isolation of the adult worm from the eye or skin biopsy 

Treatment 

The treatment of choice is diethylcarbamazine

Worms in the eyes: surgical excision  

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