Parasitic Infections

Parasitic infections by protozoa and helminths present with a broad spectrum of clinical features and pathologic lesions. Most have a worldwide distribution, but some are endemic and confined to certain countries and continents. The majority of infections are acquired orally, but a few are acquired through mosquito bites or cutaneous contact.

Some infections present acutely, whereas others remain dormant for months or years, until the host becomes immunocompromised. Seizures, headache, fever, altered mentation, focal neurologic deficits, and signs of increased intracranial pressure occur in various combinations. Early diagnosis is important, because most infections respond to therapy. The diagnosis is based on serologic tests, along with MRI and CT scan.

The pathology encompasses a great variety of lesions (Tables 6.7 and 6.8). In surgical and autopsy specimens, the parasites are identified using immunohistologic stains.

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