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Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis: an infectious disease also known as Bilharzia, Katayama Fever, and Snail Fever


Medical InBrief

schistosomiasis
Schistosoma Adult Haematobium or Adult Mansoni

by Richard Strongwater, MD, and Harish Moorjani, MD


Schistosomiasis (bilharzia) is an infection caused by a parasitic flatworm that lives in fresh water of the subtropics and tropics; the worms do not live in salt water or chlorinated swimming pools. It most commonly is seen in Africa, but it also occurs in parts of South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, and Asia. These tiny worms (cercaria) will penetrate the skin during swimming or bathing in contaminated water or even paddling on a river. Once in the body, the worms grow and can migrate to the liver, bladder, kidneys, and bowel. The worms eventually lay eggs that leave the body via the urine or feces. If the eggs pass out of the body into water, they release larvae that grow inside freshwater snails. After a few weeks, the larvae can infect another human, completing the life cycle. More than 200-million people are infected worldwide.



Schistosomiasis, swim at your own risk

 

Read more about the signs and symptoms of schistosomiasis, diagnostic evaluations and differential diagnosis, as well as treatment options and prevention.

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Sources:

  • Schistosomiasis (bilharzia). National Health Service website. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/schistosomiasis/Pages/Introduction.aspx. November 19, 2018. Accessed November 12, 2020.

  • Schistosomiasis. United States Agency for International Development website. https://www.neglecteddiseases.gov/target_diseases/schistosomiasis. Accessed November 12, 2020.

  • Williamson MA, Snyder LM. Wallach's Interpretation of Diagnostic Tests. 9th ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams; 2011.

  • Traveler's health: Schistosomiasis. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/schistosomiasis. May 4, 2020. Accessed November 12, 2020

  • Molehin A. Schistosomiasis vaccine development: update on human clinical trials. Journal of Biomedical Science. January 2020; 27(28). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12929-020-0621-y

  • Thomas C, Timson D. The Mechanism of Action of Praziquantel: Can New Drugs Exploit Similar Mechanisms? Curr Med Chem. 2020;27(5):676-696. Doi: 10.2174/0929867325666180926145537


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