Tropical pulmonary eosinophilia (TPE) is a syndrome of wheezing, fever and eosiniphilia seen predominantly in the Indian subcontinent and other tropical areas. Its etiological link with Wuchereria bancrofti and Brugia malayi has been well established. The pathogenesis is due to an exaggerated immune response to the filarial antigens which includes type I, type III and type IV reactions with eosinophils playing a pivotal role. Peripheral blood eosinophilia is usually striking with levels over 3000/μl being common. High serum levels of IgE and filarial-specific IgE and IgG are also found. The pathology may vary from an acute eosinophilic alveolitis to histiocytic infiltration depending on the stage of the disease. While earlier studies had suggested that the disease runs a benign course, more recent work has shown that untreated TPE could result in a fair degree of respiratory morbidity. Pulmonary function tests may show a mixed restrictive and obstructive abnormality with a reduction in diffusion capacity. The bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) eosinophil count has a negative correlation with the diffusion capacity. Treatment consists of diethylcarbamazine (DEC) for at least three weeks. Despite treatment with DEC, about 20 per cent of patients may relapse. Steroids have shown to have a beneficial effect but the exact dose and duration is yet to be confirmed by randomized controlled trials. A specific and easily available marker is required for TPE in order to distinguish it from other parasitic and non-parasitic causes of pulmonary eosinophilia.
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