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Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2005 Oct 15;149(42):2317-20.

[Tropical or non-tropical sprue?].

[Article in Dutch]

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Academisch Medisch Centrum/Universiteit van Amsterdam, Meibergdreef, 1105 AZ Amsterdam.


A 57-year-old Dutch man presented with weight loss and fatigue 6 months after a visit to West Papua, when he had suffered from serious diarrhoea. Macrocytic anaemia and vitamin B12 deficiency were diagnosed. A gastroduodenoscopy with biopsies of the small intestine was performed revealing no macroscopic abnormalities but partial villous atrophy was found microscopically, suggesting tropical sprue or coeliac disease. Antibodies against endomysium and tissue transglutaminase were negative, ruling out coeliac disease. The patient was successfully treated with vitamin B12, folic acid and doxycycline. This case shows that tropical sprue should be considered in the differential diagnosis of chronic diarrhoea in patients with a history of travel in tropical regions. The most frequent medical problem that travelers to the tropics experience is diarrhoea with an incidence of 30%. A small proportion of these patients eventually present with chronic diarrhoea. At that moment, the relation to their previous travelling may not be immediately clear. One of the causes of this chronic diarrhoea to be considered is tropical sprue.

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