Research

New worm infections in Germany

Using DNA tests, we traced three unusual worm infections. One of them was a dirofilariasis. Dirofilaria are transmitted by mosquitoes and normally affect dogs.

Tissue section through a skin nodule of a patient with Dirofilaria repens infection.
Tissue section through a skin nodule of a patient with Dirofilaria repens infection.

If humans are infected, the worms develop in the skin and form visible nodules. Now for the first time, a person has been infected inside Germany with the worms presumably having been imported with dogs from Southern Europe. Likewise, humans are rarely affected by canine onchocerciasis. We have found DNA of this worm in a sample extracted from the eye of a traveller returning from Turkey. Apparently, Southern Germany was the site where a man acquired a fatal infection with the horse worm Halicephalobus gingivalis. He must have had a skin lesion that came into contact with forest soil. Fortunately, the infection is very rare in humans. It was the first of its kind recorded in Europe.

 


Monoranu C.M. et al., Open Forum Infect Dis. 2015, 2(2):ofv061;
Bergua A. et al., Euro Surveill 2015, 20(16) pii: 21099;
Tappe D. et al., Euro Surveill 2014, 19(17):2-4

Dennis Tappe, Birgit Muntau, Egbert Tannich and external co-operation partners (see publication)