Biology - Angiostrongyliasis, Neural
The nematode (roundworm) Angiostrongylus (=Parastrongylus) cantonensis, also called the rat lungworm, is a common cause of human eosinophilic meningitis (neural angiostrongyliasis) and occasionally ocular disease.
Angiostrongylus costaricensis is the causal agent of abdominal angiostrongyliasis and is discussed here.
Learn more about Angiostrongylus cantonensis in this new motion graphic video.
A. cantonensis is known to use multiple rat species as definitive hosts, including black rats (Rattus rattus), brown rats, (Rattus norvegicus), and cotton rats (Sigmodon hispidus). Gastropod (snail and slug) intermediate hosts are numerous and include Achatina spp., Biomphlalaria spp., Bulinus spp., Lymnaea spp., Pomaecea spp., and more. Apart from humans, aberrant infections have occurred in several species of wild and domestic mammals and birds.
Most cases of A. cantonensis-associated eosinophilic meningitis originate from Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands. The parasite has also been reported from Africa, the Caribbean, Australia, Hawaii, and recently the southern United States.
The most notable manifestation of A. cantonensis infection is eosinophilic meningitis caused by the presence of larvae in the brain and resultant local host reactions. Somatic symptoms (e.g. headache, fever, malaise) as well as varying degrees of neurological dysfunction are usually noted. A. cantonensis infection may occasionally prove fatal. Ocular angiostrongyliasis is associated with uveitis, blurred vision, and a substantial loss of visual acuity.