Pulmonary microsporidiosis due to Encephalitozoon hellem in a patient with AIDS

M. Scaglia, L. Sacchi, G. P. Croppo, A. Da Silva, S. Gatti, S. Corona, A. Orani, A. M. Bernuzzi, N. J. Pieniazek, S. B. Slemenda, S. Wallace, G. S. Visvesvara

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The microsporidium Encephalitozoon hellem is being reported with increasingly frequency in HIV-positive subjects, as an agent of disseminated microsporidiosis without involving the gastrointestinal tract. We describe a case of pulmonary microsporidiosis in a 27-year-old Italian man with AIDS who developed fever, cough, and dyspnea. A chest X-ray showed multiple bilateral pulmonary opacities and mediastinal lymph-node enlargement. Stained smears of bronchoalveolar lavage sediment showed oval structures consistent with microsporidium spores. Viral, bacterial and fungal cultures were repeatedly negative, whereas microsporidia were successfully cultured in human and bovine fibroblast cell lines. Analysis of electron micrographs indicated that the isolate belonged to the genus Encephalitozoon. Based on further immunological, biochemical and molecular studies it was characterized as E. hellem. Even though a temporary improvement with albendazole therapy was noticed, the patient deteriorated clinically and died of severe respiratory distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-126
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infection
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Parasitology
  • Virology
  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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