DOI: 10.1093/milmed/usad246 ISSN: 0026-4075

A Case of Whipple’s Disease With Concomitant Esophageal Candidiasis

Ryan Choi, Alexander Pazevic, Kevin Pak, Michael Skaret, Angela Bachmann, Rashad Wilkerson
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • General Medicine


Whipple’s Disease (WD) is a rare disease caused by the infection of Tropheryma whipplei. It can lead to immunosuppression and a multitude of effects on different organ systems, resulting in a constellation of seemingly unrelated findings. Although treatment may appear straightforward, T. whipplei can be difficult to eradicate. We present the case of a 36-year-old male with months of progressively worsening watery diarrhea, migratory arthralgias, and weight loss. He had undergone an extensive evaluation for rheumatologic, oncologic, and infectious disorders without positive findings. Esophagogastroduodenoscopy and colonoscopy revealed esophageal candidiasis, Helicobacter pylori infection, and foamy macrophages in the lamina propria of the duodenum and ileum with positive polymerase chain reaction for T. whipplei. There were no other risk factors for esophageal candidiasis. He received treatment for his esophageal candidiasis and H. pylori infection and was treated for WD with ceftriaxone for 2 weeks, followed by hydroxychloroquine and doxycycline for 1 year. Symptoms resolved after 3 months of therapy. One year later, repeat bidirectional endoscopy was performed. Biopsies were negative for T. whipplei, although there were persistent foamy macrophages. There have been previously reported cases of patients with WD with concomitant esophageal candidiasis, and this association implies a likely state of relative immunosuppression associated with WD, which is thought to be the result of impaired T helper cell 1 activity. This impairment likely contributes to the high rate of relapse. Having a low threshold for repeat evaluation is advisable for recurrent symptoms, but long-term surveillance strategies are not clearly defined.

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