Share this article on:

Ascariasis in an Adolescent With AIDS

Roma-Giannikou, Eleftheria MD*; Viazis, Nikos MD; Spoulou, Vasiliki MD*; Theodoridou, Maria MD*

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: January 2009 - Volume 48 - Issue 1 - p 1
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31819144f2
Image of the Month

*Department of Pediatrics of Athens University, Aghia Sophia Children's Hospital, Greece

Department of Gastroenterology, Evagelismos Hospital, Athens, Greece

A 17-year-old girl, vertically infected with HIV, was repeatedly admitted in the AIDS unit for the past 12 months with abdominal pain, nausea, recurrent hyperamylasemia, diarrhea, and severe dehydration. Her serum electrolytes, especially potassium, were disproportionately low considering the losses. The patient was on highly active antiretroviral treatment with poor compliance due to her GI symptoms. The CD4/CD8 was 0.1 and the viral load was 100,000 vc/mL. Renal and adrenal functions were normal, repeated stool cultures and stool examinations for parasites were negative. Upper and lower endoscopies were normal, whereas biopsies from upper and lower GI tracts revealed mild eosinophilic infiltration. Due to the persistence of symptoms, investigation of the small bowel was performed by endoscopic capsule, which revealed a picture compatible with ascariasis (Fig. 1). Based on this finding the patient was treated with albedazole 400 mg daily for 3 days and her improvement was remarkable. Her diarrhea ceased, serum potassium and amylase levels returned to normal, her appetite improved, and she gained 3 kg in 1 month. She regularly follows her antiretroviral treatment.

FIG. 1

FIG. 1

This case illustrates that ascariasis in an HIV patient can cause severe electrolyte disturbances and recurrent pancreatitis. Ascariasis is the most frequent helminthic infection in settings with high HIV-1 seroprevalence (1). Recent data support the correlation of coinfection with HIV-1 disease progression (2). Mature Ascaris lumbricoides is the most common parasite causing pancreatitis by entering the biliary tree and/or pancreatic duct via the ampulla (3–5). In our case, inspection of Vater's ampulla with the standard endoscope missed Ascaris, which could presumably have invaded the pancreatic duct. According to wireless capsule endoscopy results, the parasites appeared on the capsule images 6 hours after capsule ingestion and probably located in jejunum and ileum. The absence of parasites in the patient's stool remains unclear, although Ascaris eggs in the stools had not been found in other cases. The incidence of pancreatitis in HIV patients is about 5%, mostly related to antiretroviral treatment (6). When co-infection with ascaris occurs the percentage is expected to be much higher because pancreatitis is common in highly endemic areas of ascariasis (3,7). Wireless capsule endoscopy is useful in cases wherein parasites are not identified on upper and lower GI endoscopy.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Submissions for the Image of the Month should include high-quality TIF endoscopic images of unusual or informative findings. In addition, 1 or 2 other associated photographs, such as radiological or pathological images, can be submitted. A brief description of no more than 200 words should accompany the images. Submissions are to be made online at, and will undergo peer review by members of the NASPGHAN Endoscopy and Procedures Committee, as well as by the Journal.

Back to Top | Article Outline


1. Fincham JE, Markus MB, Adams VJ. Could control of soil-transmitted helminthic infection influence the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Acta Trop 2003; 86:315–333.
2. Walson JL, Otieno PA, Mbuchi M, et al. Albedazole treatment of HIV-1 and helminth co-infection; a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. AIDS 2008; 22:1601–1609.
3. Cho YD, Kim YS, Cheon YK, et al. Ascaris-induced acute pancreatitis treated endoscopically. Gastrointest Endosc 2007; 66:1226–1227.
4. Mijandrusić-Sincić B, Stimac D, Kezele B, et al. Acute pancreatitis caused by Ascaris lumbricoides: a case report. Gastrointest Endosc 2008; 67:541–542.
5. Talukdar R, Chaudhuri D, Vora P, et al. A child with upper abdominal pain and pancreatitis. Gut 2008; 57:103, 124.
6. Cappell MS, Marks M. Acute pancreatitis in HIV-seropositive patients: a case control study of 44 patients. Am J Med 1995; 98:243–248.
7. Parenti DM, Steinberg W, Kang P. Infectious causes of acute pancreatitis. Pancreas 1996; 13:356–371.
© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.