March 2013 Critical Care Case of the Month: Beware the Escargot
Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 8:51AM
Rick Robbins, M.D. in Angiostrongylus cantonensis, albendazole, angiostrongyliasis, eosinophilic meningitis

Allen R. Thomas, MD

Suresh Uppalapu, MD

Phoenix VA Medical Center

Phoenix, Arizona


History of Present Illness

A 29 year old woman presented to the Phoenix VA Medical Center with complaints of headache and diffuse generalized weakness most pronounced in the lower extremities. She also noted recent fecal and urinary incontinence, abdominal pain, back pain, numbness in the feet and a non pruritic skin rash on the trunk. Onset of symptoms was about 2 weeks prior to her presentation.  Since her symptoms began she had seen in multiple local emergency departments for these same complaints as they worsened and was discharged home in each case with suspected viral syndrome.


She had no allergies and her past medical history was only significant for post- traumatic stress disorder. She has had no major surgery in her life so far and her family history was not contributory to her current presentation. She smokes marijuana for recreational purposes and drinks alcohol socially. She was not taking any medications on regular basis.

She had been in the military until six months prior to her presentation and her service included tours in Alaska and Hawaii.  She had recently returned from Fiji.  During her stay in Fiji, she reported eating snails and other uncooked food as well as drinking unpurified water

Physical Exam

Vital signs on presentation- T 98.4°C, P 102 beats/min, R 18 breaths/min, BP150/78 mm Hg  O2 sat 97% on room air

She was awake, alert, and oriented. She had mild nuchal rigidity and left ptosis. Lungs were clear and her cardiac exam was normal. Abdominal exam showed diffuse tenderness to palpation with hypoactive bowel sounds. Strength was 5/5 in the upper extremities, 4/5 on the right lower extremity, and 3/5 left lower extremity.  Sensation was Intact throughout.  Deep tendon reflexes were 1+.  Exam was thought to be somewhat limited due to poor effort.

Laboratory findings

White blood cell count was 12,400 mm3 with 75% neutrophils and 8% eosinophils.

Hemoglobin- 13.8 mg/dl; Hematocrit-41%; Platelet count was 317,000/mm3

Complete metabolic profile was normal.

CPK was elevated at 696 IU/Liter.


Chest x-ray showed some blunting of the left costophrenic angle with clear lung fields.

Which of the following are appropriate?

  1. Observation. She probably has a viral syndrome.
  2. Head CT scan
  3. Cerebral angiogram
  4. Nerve conduction studies
  5. Liver ultrasound

Reference as: Thomas AR, Uppalapu S. March 2013 critical care case of the month: beware the escargot. Southwest J Pulm Crit Care. 2013;6(3):103-111. PDF

Article originally appeared on SOUTHWEST JOURNAL of PULMONARY & CRITICAL CARE (
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