What is Gnathostomiasis?

Gnathostomiasis is a rare, travel-related parasitic infection caused by the parasite Gnathostoma spinigerum. It is most commonly found in certain areas in Asia, Latin America, and Africa, and is transmitted to humans through food contaminated with raw/undercooked fish, chicken, snakes, frogs, or prawns.

Signs and Symptoms

The initial symptoms may take from days to months to appear. Symptoms vary depending on the stage of the infection, but usually include swollen and itchy skin lesions, rashes, mild fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. As the disease progresses, complications such as neurological and ocular problems, such as ptosis, can occur.


Gnathostomiasis is difficult to diagnose as its symptoms are very similar to other diseases. Diagnosis can be made through blood tests and biopsies to detect the presence of the parasite. Imaging tests may also be used to confirm diagnosis.


Treatment usually involves a combination of medicines such as albendazole or ivermectin. Corticosteroids, antihistamines, and other supportive therapy may also be used to reduce inflammation and manage symptoms.


Preventive measures against gnathostomiasis include avoiding raw or undercooked fish, chicken, prawns, frogs, and snakes, as well as ensuring thorough cooking of meat before consumption. In addition, good hygiene practices should be observed to ensure food purity.


Gnathostomiasis may lead to complications such as stroke, encephalitis, meningoencephalitis, epilepsy, and ocular problems. Long-term complications can lead to disability and death.

Risk Factors

The disease is most commonly found in certain areas in Asia, such as Thailand, Laos, China, Taiwan, Japan, and India. Travelers visiting these areas and consuming raw/undercooked food may be at an increased risk of infection.

Long-term Outlook

Early diagnosis and prompt treatment are key to preventing serious long-term consequences. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the brain or other organs and may cause life-threatening complications. Therefore, it is important to seek medical assistance as soon as any symptoms appear.

Preventive Measures

  • Avoid raw or undercooked fish, chicken, prawns, frogs, and snakes.
  • Thoroughly cook any meat you consume.
  • Practice good hygiene when handling and preparing food.
  • Use insect repellants, wear long-sleeved clothes, and avoid touching stray animals.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with animals or pet food, and after using the restroom.