Gram negative rod meningitis due to Strongyloides stercoralis

Nicholas S. Hendren, Shahzad Chindhy, Kaylee Shepard


A 57-year-old male Mexican immigrant living in Dallas presented with altered mental status, progressive confusion, mild headache and fevers. He was diagnosed with embryonal liver sarcoma one year prior to admission and had recently started dexamethasone therapy for metastatic spinal lesions. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures from a lumbar puncture were both positive for Escherichia coli. He was diagnosed with spontaneous gram negative rod (GNR) meningitis. Given his travel history, immunosuppression and GNR meningitis, a stool ova and parasite sample was obtained to screen for Strongyloides stercoralis. His stool was markedly positive for Strongyloides stercoralis larvae and he was further diagnosed with Strongyloides hyperinfection syndrome. Strongyloides is capable of chronically re-infecting human hosts without an external life cycle via autoinfection. In chronic infections, hyperinfection can be triggered with immunosuppressive medications, especially steroids. Disseminated Strongyloides should be considered as the source for unexplained GNR bacteremia or meningitis especially in immunosuppressed patients. Our patient likely had a chronic asymptomatic Strongyloides infection acquired in Mexico that became a hyperinfection resulting in GNR meningitis after starting high doses of dexamethasone.

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Case Reports in Internal Medicine

ISSN 2332-7243(Print)  ISSN 2332-7251(Online)

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