Tags: Abscesses

Echinococcal Infection

Essentials of Diagnosis Radiographic finding of cyst Positive echinococcal serology Aspiration of cyst revealing echinococcal sand or hooks Typical histologic appearance of cyst wall General Considerations The normal life cycle of Echinococcus species does not involve humans. Human disease occurs when humans become an accidental intermediate host for the parasite, and tissue invasion is followed by the formation of cysts (hydatid cysts). The definitive hosts for echinococcal species are canines (usually dogs), in whom the adult worms live. There may be several hundred worms within a host, and the worms are small, usually 3-6 mm long. The scolex is attached to the dog intestine, and to each scolex is attached a […]

American Trypanosomiasis (Chagas’ Disease)

Essentials of Diagnosis Epidemiologic factors: time spent in an endemic zone; poor housing conditions, eg, mud or thatched housing; exposure to reduviid insect vector History and physical exam: Romana's sign (swollen periorbital mucosal tissues after ocular inoculation); chagoma (skin nodule at the site of acute inoculation); in the chronic phase, congestive heart failure, dysphagia or regurgitation, and constipation Laboratory exam: Acute Chagas': trypomastigotes revealed by Giemsa smear of blood or buffy coat; culture of affected tissues, ie, the inoculation site; serologic enzyme immunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); xenodiagnosis if available Chronic Chagas': radiological studies show congestive heart failure, megacolon, or megaesophagus; ECG shows right bundle branch block, arrhythmias General Considerations […]

Amebic Liver Abscess

Clinical Findings Signs and Symptoms Amebic liver abscess is the most common extraintestinal manifestation of amebiasis. Patients may note right-upper-quadrant pain that is either dull or pleuritic in nature. Often pain is referred to the right shoulder. Less than 50% of patients have an enlarged liver. In the acute setting, patients typically manifest fever. If symptoms have been present for > 2 weeks, fever is present in less than half of patients. Respiratory symptoms, such as cough, can occur even in the absence of pulmonary disease and may be the only complaint. In the subacute setting, weight loss is common. Diarrhea is found in less than one-third of patients with amebic […]

Toxoplasma Gondii

General Considerations Epidemiology Toxoplasma gondii infection, or toxoplasmosis, is a zoonosis (the definitive hosts are members of the cat family). The two most common routes of infection in humans are by oral ingestion of the parasite and by transplacental (congenital) transmission to the fetus. Ingestion of undercooked or raw meat that contains cysts or of water or food contaminated with oocysts results in acute infection. In humans, the prevalence of toxoplasmosis increases with age. There are also considerable geographic differences in prevalence rates (eg, 10% in Palo Alto, CA; 15% in Boston, MA; 30% in Birmingham, AL; 70% in France; = 90% in El Salvador). Differences in the epidemiology of T […]

Non-falciparum Malaria (P Vivax, P Ovale, P Malariae)

Clinical Findings Signs and Symptoms Patients with nonfalciparum malaria invariably develop fever and chills that may become cyclic. Initially, patients experience chills, which are followed by fever (Box 1). Patients with malaria often manifest many nonspecific symptoms such as weakness, malaise, headache, and myalgias. As the disease progresses, signs of anemia, such as pale conjunctiva, may be seen. Splenomegaly and mild hepatomegaly may also be present. After hours of fever, defervescence occurs with marked diaphoresis. Patients are weakened and exhausted from the severity of the disease. In established infections caused by P vivax and P ovale, a periodicity may occur approximately every 48 h. P vivax and P ovale infections are […]


Essentials of Diagnosis Patients usually immunocompetent. Patients in endemic areas with chronic pulmonary and mucotaneous lesions involving the mouth, nose, larynx, and face; regional or diffuse lymphadenopathy. Found in Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina. Dimorphic fungus: yeast form in tissue specimens and at 37 °C; mold form when grown at room temperature in the laboratory. Thick-walled yeast, 4-40 um, with multiple buds when seen in tissue specimens. Complement fixation or immunodiffusion. General Considerations Paracoccidioidomycosis is caused by Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. Also known as South American blastomycosis, it is the most prevalent systemic mycosis found in Central and South America and is the most common endemic mycosis in this area. Epidemiology Paracoccidioidomycosis […]

Penicillium Infections

Essentials of Diagnosis Penicillium marneffei infection found in both immunocompetent and immunosuppressed patients. P marneffei found in Southeast Asia and southern China. Mold, septate hyphae 1.5-5 um in diameter. May be cultured from a variety of specimens including blood. Penicillium spp. other than P marneffei occur worldwide. Infection with Penicillium spp. is rare; occurs in immunosuppressed patients. General Considerations Epidemiology Penicillium spp. are ubiquitous in nature and may be recovered with ease from a variety of sources within the hospital environment. These molds commonly contaminate clinical specimens and cause contamination in the laboratory. Colonization of nonsterile anatomical sites in humans is common. In most cases where Penicillium spp. are recovered from […]

Aspergillus, Pseudallescheria, & Agents of Mucormycosis

ASPERGILLUS INFECTION Essentials of Diagnosis Filamentous fungus with septate hyphae 3-6 um in diameter. Branching of hyphal elements typically at 45° angle. Specific IgG antibodies generally of no use diagnostically since most patients are immunosuppressed and will not generate antibody response. Pulmonary lesions, localized or cavitary in susceptible host. General Considerations Epidemiology Aspergillus spp. are found worldwide and grow in a variety of conditions. They commonly grow in soil and moist locations and are among the most common molds encountered on spoiled food and decaying vegetation, in compost piles, and in stored hay and grain. Aspergillus spp. often grow in houseplant soil, and such soil may be a source of Aspergillus […]

Candida Species

Essentials of Diagnosis Characteristic appearance of yeast and hyphae on KOH preparations. Formation of germ tubes in serum is presumptive diagnosis for Candida albicans. Cultures must be interpreted with caution because positive culture may represent colonization rather than infection. Serology not useful. General Considerations Epidemiology Candida organisms are commensal with humans and, in the absence of alterations in host defense mechanisms, usually do not cause disease. Candida exists as normal flora within the oral cavity, throughout the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, in expectorated sputum, in the vagina, and in the bladder of patients with indwelling catheters. There are >150 species within the genus Candida, although the majority are not known to cause […]

Candidemia & Disseminated Candidiasis

Candidemia may present in a variety of fashions, ranging from asymptomatic to fulminant sepsis. The candidemic patient generally has risk factors for infection, such as malignancy, chemotherapy-induced neutropenia, organ transplantation, GI surgery, burns, indwelling catheters, or exposure to broad-spectrum antibiotics. Disseminated candidiasis must be assumed to be present in those with positive blood cultures, although negative cultures do not preclude the possibility of disseminated disease. Dissemination usually manifests with many microabscesses involving multiple organs, especially the liver, spleen, and eye, but almost any organ may be involved (Box 2). Diagnosis Candidemia is diagnosed by recovering Candida species in blood culture. Candidemia may be isolated or may occur in the setting of […]