A 32-year-old white American male contracted strongyloidiasis in Nigeria. Prolonged and severe watery diarrhea was complicated by hypokalemia and cardiac arrest. Steady-state perfusion studies with a plasma-like electrolyte solution revealed net secretion of water, sodium, potasssium, and chloride in a segment of jejunum. Mucosal permeability measured by the ration of [14C]urea and tritiated water diffusion was unchanged. Chloride secretion occurred against both an electrical and chemical gradient, which suggests that chloride secretion was active. Intestinal water and electrolyte secretion may be the mechanism of watery diarrhea in patients with strongyloidiasis.
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