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J Travel Med. 2015 Sep-Oct;22(5):318-24. doi: 10.1111/jtm.12212. Epub 2015 May 22.

Gnathostomiasis: An Emerging Infection of Raw Fish Consumers in Gnathostoma Nematode-Endemic and Nonendemic Countries.

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Schools of Public Health and Medicine, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC) in New Orleans, New Orleans, LA, USA.



Gnathostomiasis, a helminthic infection commonly reported in Southeast Asia and Latin America, may follow consumption of raw seafood infected with muscle-encysted larvae of Gnathostoma species nematodes. As a result of increasingly exotic tastes for local ethnic dishes, including raw seafood, some regions outside of gnathostome-endemic areas import live species for raw consumption. This may facilitate imported human gnathostomiasis or potentially the establishment of this zoonosis in formerly nonendemic regions. Traveling to a gnathostome-endemic area is no longer a criterion for diagnosis. The objectives of this review are to enhance clinician awareness of this infection by describing the behavioral risk factors for its acquisition, life-cycle, clinical manifestations, diagnosis, management, and prevention.


Internet search engines were queried with the key medical subject heading words. Case reports, case series, epidemiological investigations, and laboratory studies were reviewed; high risk behaviors for gnathostomiasis were identified; and human cases were stratified as cutaneous gnathostomiasis, visceral gnathostomiasis, neurognathostomiasis, and ocular gnathostomiasis.


The greatest risk factors for gnathostomiasis included the consumption of raw freshwater seafood dishes in endemic regions and the consumption of raw imported or domestic seafood dishes in households and ethnic restaurants in many nonendemic regions.


Gnathostomiasis is no longer a disease of returning travelers, and autochthonous cases may be anticipated to increase as a result of the importation of live Gnathostoma-infected species and the potential establishment of regional zoonoses of Gnathostoma-infected wild species. Since the eradication of gnathostomiasis is unlikely given the global distribution of Gnathostoma nematodes, the only effective preventive strategy is to educate persons in endemic and nonendemic areas that fish, eels, frogs, snakes, and birds must be cooked thoroughly first before eating and not eaten raw or marinated. The onset of migratory subcutaneous swellings with hyper-eosinophilia weeks to months after consuming raw seafood should provoke suspicion of gnathostomiasis.

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