Human Syngamosis as an Uncommon Cause of Chronic Cough

Janaína Oliveira Bentivi Pulcherio Eduardo Oliveira Machado da Silva Daniela Pereira Rezende Patrícia Bittencourt Barcia Barbeira Rosane Siciliano Machado Marcos Aurélio Baptista de Oliveira About the authors

Abstract

Introduction

 Chronic cough may represent a diagnostic challenge. Chronic parasitism of upper airways is an unusual cause.

Objective

 To describe a case of human syngamosis as an uncommon cause of dry cough.

Case Report

 An endoscopic exam performed in a woman suffering of chronic cough revealed a Y-shaped worm in the larynx identified as Syngamus laryngeus.

Discussion

 This nematode parasitizes the upper respiratory tract of many animals including humans. The diagnosis is performed by the examination of the worm expelled by cough or by endoscopy. Endoscopic exam is easy to perform and is essential in the diagnosis of causes of chronic cough, even uncommon entities. Removal is the only efficient treatment.

Keywords
cough; parasites; larynx


Introduction

The cough is symptom of a great variety of pulmonary and extrapulmonary diseases. It produces several alterations in the individual lifestyle; it is one of the most important causes of search for medical attention, and it may result in high costs on diagnostic exams and medications.11 II Diretrizes Brasileiras no Manejo da Tosse Crônica. J Bras Pneumol 2006;32(6 Suppl):403-446

The dry cough is difficult to diagnose and chronic cough (when it lasts longer than 8 weeks) is even a diagnostic challenge.11 II Diretrizes Brasileiras no Manejo da Tosse Crônica. J Bras Pneumol 2006;32(6 Suppl):403-446 , 22 Neto FXP, Ramos CF, Silva AMT, Santos KAN, Azevedo ACG, Palheta ACP. Tosse Crônica na Rotina Otorrinolaringológica. Int Arq Otorrinolaringol 2011;15:231-240 Brazilian and international guidelines lead the investigation to the most common causes: asthma, reflux disease, and rhinopathies.11 II Diretrizes Brasileiras no Manejo da Tosse Crônica. J Bras Pneumol 2006;32(6 Suppl):403-446 , 33 Irwin RS, BaumannMH, Bolser DC, et al; American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). Diagnosis and management of cough executive summary: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2006;129(1, Suppl):1S-23S Among several uncommon causes of chronic cough can be parasitism, through the pulmonary cycle or chronic parasitism of upper airways, a rare condition.22 Neto FXP, Ramos CF, Silva AMT, Santos KAN, Azevedo ACG, Palheta ACP. Tosse Crônica na Rotina Otorrinolaringológica. Int Arq Otorrinolaringol 2011;15:231-240

We introduce the case of a patient who presented chronic cough due to parasitism of upper airways.

Case Report

A 41-year-old Caucasian Brazilian woman presented to our hospital with a chronic cough and a foreign body sensation in her throat for 5 months. She had no other symptoms. In this period she had visited many physicians and used several types of medication without improvement of her condition. There was no history of contact with birds, cattle, or even pets.

The physical examination showed no abnormalities. In the video laryngoscopy we observed a reddish vermiform organism with active movements, ∼15 mm in length. It had one end attached to the base of the epiglottis (Fig. 1).

Fig. 1
Video laryngoscopy showing a vermiform organism on the larynx.

The organism was removed by direct laryngoscopy. It was a Y-shaped worm. The material was sent to biological analysis. It was identified as a couple of Mammomonogamus (Syngamus) laryngeus, a nematode from Syngamidae family.

At the 30-day follow-up appointment, the patient had no symptoms. A new laryngoscopy exam was performed and was normal (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2
Video laryngoscopy after treatment.

Discussion

Nematodes of the family Syngamidae parasitize the upper respiratory tract of cattle, buffaloes, goats, and wild and domestic birds. Humans can be accidentally infected.44 Weinstein L, Molavi A. Syngamus laryngeus infection (syngamosis) with chronic cough. Ann Intern Med 1971;74:577-580 , 55 Rosen MJ. Chronic cough due to tuberculosis and other infections: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2006;129 (1, Suppl):197S-201S

The species Syngamus laryngeus (Mammomonogamus laryngeus) was first demonstrated in 1899 by Railliet. The first case of human disease caused by this organism was reported in 1913 by Leiper in the West Indies. In Brazil, Travassos described the first case of human disease in Salvador (state of Bahia) in 1921.44 Weinstein L, Molavi A. Syngamus laryngeus infection (syngamosis) with chronic cough. Ann Intern Med 1971;74:577-580 , 66 Freitas AL, De Carli G, Blankenhein MH. Mammomanogamus (Syngamus) laryngeus infection: a new Brazilian human case. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 1995;37:177-179 There are ∼100 cases of human infection, and almost all of them were originated in the Caribbean Islands and Brazil.55 Rosen MJ. Chronic cough due to tuberculosis and other infections: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2006;129 (1, Suppl):197S-201S , 66 Freitas AL, De Carli G, Blankenhein MH. Mammomanogamus (Syngamus) laryngeus infection: a new Brazilian human case. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 1995;37:177-179

S. laryngeus is a reddish nematode found in couple, in permanent copula, which is why the pair appears as a Y. The female measures 8 to 23 mm and the male measures 3 to 6 mm.66 Freitas AL, De Carli G, Blankenhein MH. Mammomanogamus (Syngamus) laryngeus infection: a new Brazilian human case. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 1995;37:177-179 , 77 Marinho AC, Tavares W. Rotinas de diagnóstico e tratamento das doenças infecciosas e parasitárias. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Atheneu; 2007 The life cycle of the parasite includes the elimination of eggs in the soil by coughing or by the stool (when they are swallowed). These eggs hatch and release larvae, which infect animals through contaminated water and food.77 Marinho AC, Tavares W. Rotinas de diagnóstico e tratamento das doenças infecciosas e parasitárias. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Atheneu; 2007 , 88 Pontes P, GadelhaME, Gregório LC, BehlauM, Steffen N. Singamose laríngea: apresentação de dois casos. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 1992;58:294-297 Humans are parasitized at this same way, and the worms develop themselves in larynx or trachea, causing laryngotracheal irritation that results in cough with or without hemoptysis and bronchospasm. It is not clear if these parasites migrate from pharynx to the larynx or if they lodge in the airways after going through the gastrointestinal tract/bloodstream/lung/larynx cycle.55 Rosen MJ. Chronic cough due to tuberculosis and other infections: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2006;129 (1, Suppl):197S-201S , 88 Pontes P, GadelhaME, Gregório LC, BehlauM, Steffen N. Singamose laríngea: apresentação de dois casos. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 1992;58:294-297

The blood cell count does not reveal relevant eosinophilia.44 Weinstein L, Molavi A. Syngamus laryngeus infection (syngamosis) with chronic cough. Ann Intern Med 1971;74:577-580 , 77 Marinho AC, Tavares W. Rotinas de diagnóstico e tratamento das doenças infecciosas e parasitárias. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Atheneu; 2007 The diagnosis is usually made when the worms are expelled during an episode of cough or when visualized in an endoscopic exam.55 Rosen MJ. Chronic cough due to tuberculosis and other infections: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2006;129 (1, Suppl):197S-201S , 77 Marinho AC, Tavares W. Rotinas de diagnóstico e tratamento das doenças infecciosas e parasitárias. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Atheneu; 2007

The treatment consists in the removal of the worm and it is the only effective approach. Some studies report the use of mebendazole and thiabendazole, with favorable outcome.44 Weinstein L, Molavi A. Syngamus laryngeus infection (syngamosis) with chronic cough. Ann Intern Med 1971;74:577-580 , 77 Marinho AC, Tavares W. Rotinas de diagnóstico e tratamento das doenças infecciosas e parasitárias. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Atheneu; 2007

Conclusion

Otolaryngologic causes must be considered in initial management of patients with chronic dry cough after you can eliminate the most common diagnoses. The endoscopic exam of the larynx is easy to perform and is essential in differential diagnosis of a great variety of diseases that curses with chronic cough including parasitism of upper airways. This is a rare entity but must be considered in Brazil where many cases where described.

References

  • 1
    II Diretrizes Brasileiras no Manejo da Tosse Crônica. J Bras Pneumol 2006;32(6 Suppl):403-446
  • 2
    Neto FXP, Ramos CF, Silva AMT, Santos KAN, Azevedo ACG, Palheta ACP. Tosse Crônica na Rotina Otorrinolaringológica. Int Arq Otorrinolaringol 2011;15:231-240
  • 3
    Irwin RS, BaumannMH, Bolser DC, et al; American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP). Diagnosis and management of cough executive summary: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2006;129(1, Suppl):1S-23S
  • 4
    Weinstein L, Molavi A. Syngamus laryngeus infection (syngamosis) with chronic cough. Ann Intern Med 1971;74:577-580
  • 5
    Rosen MJ. Chronic cough due to tuberculosis and other infections: ACCP evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. Chest 2006;129 (1, Suppl):197S-201S
  • 6
    Freitas AL, De Carli G, Blankenhein MH. Mammomanogamus (Syngamus) laryngeus infection: a new Brazilian human case. Rev Inst Med Trop Sao Paulo 1995;37:177-179
  • 7
    Marinho AC, Tavares W. Rotinas de diagnóstico e tratamento das doenças infecciosas e parasitárias. 2 ed. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Atheneu; 2007
  • 8
    Pontes P, GadelhaME, Gregório LC, BehlauM, Steffen N. Singamose laríngea: apresentação de dois casos. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol 1992;58:294-297

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    2013

History

  • Received
    28 Dec 2012
  • Accepted
    20 Feb 2013
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