The key difference between autoinfection and hyperinfection is that autoinfection is a type of reinfection with larvae produced by parasitic worms already present in the body while hyperinfection is a type of repeated reinfection caused due to increased larval migration.
Reinfection is mainly associated with immunocompromised people. Autoinfection and hyperinfection are two types of reinfections. Therefore, low immune state of individuals can be a reason for autoinfection and hyperinfection. Autoinfection happens as a result of reinfection from a pathogen already present in the body. Hyperinfection happens as a result of repeated reinfection with the increased population of larvae produced by the parasitic worms already present in the body.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Autoinfection
3. What is Hyperinfection
4. Similarities Between Autoinfection and Hyperinfection
5. Side by Side Comparison – Autoinfection vs Hyperinfection in Tabular Form
What is Autoinfection?
Autoinfection is a type of infection caused by a pathogen already present in the body. It is a type of infection which transfers from one part of the body to another part of the body. Chlamydia trachomitis is a pathogen which causes genital tract infections such as epididymitis and nongonococcal urethritis, etc. Autoinfection from the genital tract to eyes can cause conjunctivitis. Enterobius vermicularis is a human pinworm that causes enterobiasis. It is an infection in humans.
Autoinfection is a mode of infection of E. vermicularis. Autoinfection happens when patients scratch the perianal area and transfer eggs to mouth from the contaminated hand. Eggs then hatch larvae and cause the infection in the small intestine. This is most common in children than adults. Strongyloides stercoralis is a threadworm which causes strongyloidiasis. Autoinfection of S. stercoralis involves the premature transformation of non-infective larvae into infective larvae which can penetrate the intestinal mucosa or the skin of the perineal area in order to cause infection again.
What is Hyperinfection?
Hyperinfection refers to repeated reinfection with larvae produced by parasitic worms already found in the body. This is due to the ability of various parasites to complete the life cycle within a single host. Hyperinfection is caused as a result of accelerated autoinfection in immunocompromised patients. Strongyloides stercoralis is a parasitic worm as well as an intestinal nematode that causes hyperinfection syndrome. It is a rare and fatal disease. The signs and symptoms of hyperinfection are attributed to increased larval migration of this parasitic worm. When hyperinfection occurs, it can be detected by the presence of increased numbers of larvae in stool and sputum.
In hyperinfection syndrome, the larvae are limited to the GI tract and the lungs. But if left untreated, larvae may reach different organs, and the mortality rate can be increased. It is also associated with significant morbidity. Hyperinfection can also occur in patients receiving long-term corticosteroid therapy
What are the Similarities Between Autoinfection and Hyperinfection?
- Autoinfection and hyperinfection are two types of reinfections.
- Both occur mainly due to larvae produced by parasitic worms already present in the body.
- Both types of infections are feasible in patients with impaired cell-mediated immunity.
- Therefore, immunocompromised people are subject autoinfection and hyperinfection commonly.
- Strongyloides stercoralis is a parasitic worm which is responsible for autoinfection and hyperinfection in humans.
What is the Difference Between Autoinfection and Hyperinfection?
Autoinfection is an infection which occurs due to a pathogen already present in the body. Hyperinfection is the accelerated autoinfection or repeated reinfection which occurs due to the increased number of larvae produced by the pathogen already present in the body. So, this is the key difference between autoinfection and hyperinfection.
Summary – Autoinfection vs Hyperinfection
Autoinfectin and hyperinfection are two types of infections caused by pathogens already present in the body. They are reinfections. Hyperinfection is accelerated autoinfection that occurs due to increased numbers of larvae in the parasite. Strongyloides stercoralis causes both autoinfection and hyperinfection syndrome. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between autoinfection and hyperinfection.
1. Mejia, Rojelio, and Thomas B Nutman. “Screening, Prevention, and Treatment for Hyperinfection Syndrome and Disseminated Infections Caused by Strongyloides Stercoralis.” Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Aug. 2012, Available here.
2. Qu, Ting-Ting, et al. “A Fatal Strongyloides Stercoralis Hyperinfection Syndrome in a Patient With Chronic Kidney Disease: A Case Report and Literature Review.” Medicine, Wolters Kluwer Health, May 2016, Available here.
1. “Cryptosporidium LifeCycle lg” By CDC (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Strongyloides stercoralis (YPM IZ 093199)” By Daniel J. Drew (CC0) via Commons Wikimedia
Joseph Horton says
When I was in medical school (50th reunion next year!), what this article calls strongyloides “hyperinfection” was, if memory serves, called “internal autoinfection.” Have the terms changed in the last half century or do I misremember? At Tulane med, we had two required parasitology courses—first in clinical sciences (second year), second during pediatrics rotation, for obvious reasons.