A presentation of latent tropical sprue in a Canadian hospital
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Tropical sprue (TS) is a chronic diarrheal disease of unknown etiology characterized by malabsorption and small bowel mucosal abnormalities. TS affects residents of, and visitors to, endemic tropical regions. Rarely the disease may remain latent for several years, and to date, few cases of latent TS have been reported in Europe or North America. However, in our increasingly multicultural communities and in a 'global village' where travel is common, clinicians must maintain a high index of suspicion for TS in patients presenting with diarrhea and malabsorption who have traveled to endemic regions. TS may mimic common diarrheal diseases that are seen in developed nations, including celiac disease, Crohn's disease, bacterial overgrowth, and other infectious etiologies. Accordingly, once these more common etiologies have been ruled out, TS must be considered in patients presenting with diarrhea after travel to endemic regions. We present a unique Canadian case of latent TS, with a brief review of the diagnostic approach and treatment.
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