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For cutaneous symptoms of Gnathostoma infection, both albendazole and ivermectin have been shown to result in cure in several trials that were too small to firmly establish efficacy and safety of treatment.

Reported cure rates at 6 months after treatment with albendazole are >90% and after treatment with ivermectin range from 76–95.2%. Albendazole may cause outward migration of larvae. Ivermectin may cause a temporary increase of cutaneous symptoms. Two small studies in which patients were followed up for 1 year or longer found cure rates after treatment with albendazole decreased over time. Relapse is not uncommon, however, with either treatment and has been shown to occur up to 26 months after initial therapy. Monitoring for symptom recurrence is needed for all patients regardless of treatment regimen. Relapse does not necessarily require treatment with a different medication, though data on this issue also are limited.

Two different regimens of albendazole (400 mg daily for 21 days and 400 mg twice daily for 21 days) and two different regimens of ivermectin (200 mcg/kg once daily for 1 day and 200 mcg/kg once daily for 2 days) have been studied. Data are insufficient to determine which regimen is the most effective, so it would probably be prudent to use the higher dose regimen of either medication until better data are available.

Whether to treat ocular and central nervous system (CNS) Gnathostoma infection remains controversial, particularly as there are no published studies of the efficacy of albendazole or ivermectin. As albendazole may cause larvae to migrate and ivermectin may cause a disease flare, there is concern that treatment with antihelminthics could worsen a patient’s neurologic status and possibly increase the risk for death or permanent neurologic deficit. There has been only one observational study of corticosteroids in patients presenting with probable Gnathostoma infection. No benefit of corticosteroids was demonstrated, possibly because it is thought that much of the damage to the CNS is caused by mechanical destruction of tissue.

At this time it is not possible to give recommendations for the treatment of CNS or ocular disease other than to provide supportive care. As gnathostomiasis has been shown to cause intracranial hemorrhage, patients with neurologic disease should be carefully monitored and plans for prompt intervention should be put into place.