HTLV-I and Strongyloides in Australia: The worm lurking beneath.

01 Jan 2021
Gordon CA, Shield JM, Bradbury RS, Muhi S, Page W, Judd JA, Lee R, Biggs BA, Ross K, Kurscheid J, Gray DJ, McManus DP

 

Strongyloidiasis and HTLV-I (human T-lymphotropic virus-1) are important infections that are endemic in many countries around the world with an estimated 370 million infected with Strongyloides stercoralis alone, and 5-10 million with HTVL-I. Co-infections with these pathogens are associated with significant morbidity and can be fatal. HTLV-I infects T-cells thus causing dysregulation of the immune system which has been linked to dissemination and hyperinfection of S. stercoralis leading to bacterial sepsis which can result in death. Both of these pathogens are endemic in Australia primarily in remote communities in Queensland, the Northern Territory, and Western Australia. Other cases in Australia have occurred in immigrants and refugees, returned travellers, and Australian Defence Force personnel. HTLV-I infection is lifelong with no known cure. Strongyloidiasis is a long-term chronic disease that can remain latent for decades, as shown by infections diagnosed in prisoners of war from World War II and the Vietnam War testing positive decades after they returned from these conflicts. This review aims to shed light on concomitant infections of HTLV-I with S. stercoralis primarily in Australia but in the global context as well.