Parasitic pulmonary eosinophilia

Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2006 Apr;27(2):171-84. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-939520.


Parasitic infections, although common in tropical and subtropical regions, are prevalent worldwide because of changing immigration patterns and in international travel. The burden of worm infection is enormous and the intensity of infection is usually high among the poor and in immunocompromised individuals. Pulmonary eosinophilia occurs in almost all metazoan infections. In the Western world, the most common infections are caused by Strongyloides, Ascaris, Toxocara, and Ancylostoma species. Most of the nematodes multiply within the human host and cause pulmonary eosinophilia during larval migration through the lungs. Despite larval migration through the lungs, there is usually no permanent lung damage. The result is an increased number of eosinophils in the airways or lung parenchyma with or without peripheral eosinophilia. Löffler's syndrome, visceral larva migrans, and tropical pulmonary eosinophilia are the most common infections that cause pulmonary eosinophilia. The most serious parasitic eosinophilic lung disease is tropical pulmonary eosinophilia, a disorder caused by the filarial worms Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi, in which cases have typically been reported to masquerade acute or refractory bronchial asthma. Increasing awareness, newer diagnostic techniques, preventative measures, and antiparasitic drugs are important in reducing the worldwide morbidity and mortality from parasitic helminths and protozoa. This review focuses on common and some uncommon causes of pulmonary parasitic eosinophilia and their manifestations, diagnosis, and management.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthelmintics / therapeutic use
  • Antiprotozoal Agents
  • Cestode Infections / drug therapy
  • Cestode Infections / pathology
  • Cestode Infections / physiopathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Larva Migrans, Visceral / drug therapy
  • Larva Migrans, Visceral / pathology
  • Larva Migrans, Visceral / physiopathology
  • Lung / parasitology
  • Nematode Infections / drug therapy
  • Nematode Infections / pathology
  • Nematode Infections / physiopathology
  • Protozoan Infections / drug therapy
  • Protozoan Infections / pathology
  • Protozoan Infections / physiopathology
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia* / parasitology
  • Pulmonary Eosinophilia* / physiopathology
  • Travel
  • Trematode Infections / drug therapy
  • Trematode Infections / pathology
  • Trematode Infections / physiopathology


  • Anthelmintics
  • Antiprotozoal Agents