Acanthocheilonemiasis is a rare topical infectious disease caused by a parasite known as Acanthocheilonema perstans. For most part, this parasite is found in Africa and is transmitted through the bite of small flies. The disorder affects males and females in equal numbers.
Symptoms of infection may include red, itchy skin, abdominal and chest pain, muscular pain, areas of localized swelling, and enlarged liver and spleen. Lab testing might reveal an increase in the level of specialized white blood cells (WBC) called eosinophils.
The adult worm can get lodged in the tissues of the abdomen and chest such as lungs or heart causing inflammation and immune reaction. If the parasite is in the early or prelarval form, diagnosis can be made by examining a thick blood smear from the patient under a microscope.
Treatment includes administration of antifilarial drugs, however, some cases may require surgery to remove large adult worms. Mild cases do not require treatment.
Information on current clinical trails can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov. Supporting organizations include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Genetic and Rare Disease Information Center, NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, World Health Organization.