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Zoonotic Filariasis

Zoonotic Filariasis

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Published by fuzel jamil

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Published by: fuzel jamil on May 15, 2010
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07/04/2014

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SUMMARY
Filariae of animals, especially those of mammals, often infect humans andtypically produce cryptic infections. These "zoonotic"
 
infections have beenreported from virtually all parts of the
 
world including temperate zones. Infectionsmay be symptomatic
 
or not, and the parasites are found in surgical tissue biopsyspecimens or, more rarely, are removed intact from superficial
 
sites such as theorbit or conjuctivae. Typically, these worms
 
tend to occupy tissue sites similar tothose occupied in the natural
 
animal host, with the exception of the eyes. Manykinds of filariae
 
have been isolated from humans, including species of Dirofilaria,Brugia, Onchocerca, Dipetalonema, Loaina and Meningonema. Worms
 
have beenfound in subcutaneous tissues, the heart and lungs,
 
lymphatics, the eye, and thecentral nervous system. Specific
 
identification of these filariae is based on their morphological
 
features in histologic sections. Unfortunately, some of these
 
wormscannot be identified even at the generic level. There are
 
other species of filariae, presumed to be zoonotic, which produce
 
 patent infections in humans but are poorlyand incompletely known.
 
These include Microfilaria semiclarum and Microfilaria bolivarensis.
 
It is probable that almost any filaria parasitizing animals can,
 
under  proper circumstances, infect humans and undergo some degree
 
of development.Undoubtedly, additional species of filariae will
 
continue to be isolated fromhumans in the future.
INTRODUCTION
Human infections with filariae of animals, referred to as zoonotic filariasis, occur worldwide. First reported in modern literature more than 100 years ago, thenumbers of cases and parasite species involved have steadily increased. Manywidely different species of filariae have been identified as agents of infection.Although various species of filariae can cause common infections in birds, reptiles,and amphibians, to date only filariae which are natural parasites of mammals have been recorded as causing zoonotic infections. All of the filariae
 
utilize bloodsucking insects as biological vectors, so that humans are infected byzooanthropophilic species which fed previously, in an appropriate time frame, onan animal with a patent filaria infection.2
 
The infective larvae of these filariae invade a variety of human tissues and elicitlittle or no discernible response from
 
the host during the course of theidevelopment unless they ente
 
exquisitely sensitive tissues such as theconjunctivae. However,
 
when these parasites die in the tissues, the host mounts aforeign
 
 body response to their presence. It is unclear in these cases
 
whether the parasite becomes moribund and the host responds to
 
the dying worm or whether the host ultimately mounts a response
 
which kills the worm. Inasmuch as most of these infections persist
 
for months without a detectable host response, it seemslikely
 
that at some level, the worm finds itself in an unnatural host
 
and succumbsand that this is followed by a tissue reaction to
 
the dying worm. This argument isfurther strengthened by the observation
 
that in their natural hosts, filariae aretypically long-lived,
 
living often several years or more. Zoonotic infections aretypically
 
cryptic; i.e., only in rare instances are circulating microfilariae
 
found.In a majority of instances, the parasites are found in tissue biopsy specimens; lessfrequently, they are removed from the
 
tissues intact. Typically, only one(sometimes two, but rarely
 
more) worm is removed from an individual; removal istherapeutic.Because the parasites are found most frequently in sections of tissue, theiidentification depends on a knowledge of the
 
micromorphologic features of theindividual parasite species.
 
Often, many of these filariae can be accuratelyidentified at
 
the generic level from the morphology of the body wall. It is
 
 possibleto determine the sexual maturity and reproductive state
 
of female worms byexamination of the contents of the reproductive
 
tubes, especially the ovaries,seminal receptacles, and uterine
 
 branches either in the intact worms or intransverse sections. Some parasites are well described and characterized, whileothers are not. Consequently, species identifications are often
 
difficult if notimpossible.In this review, we discuss the species of filariae recovered from humans on the basis of the tissue locations in which they
 
are found. The behavior, biology, andmorphologic features of 
 
the parasites in their gross and microscopic aspects basedon
 
current knowledge are discussed.3

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