WHAT IS SCHISTOSOMIASIS?

Schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic parasitic disease. It is caused by blood flukes (trematode worms) of the genus Schistosoma. According to WHO last 2015 there was an estimate of at least 218 million people that required preventative treatment. It affects 240 million people around the world. It is prevalent in poverty driven communities, especially in tropical and sub-tropical areas without potable water and adequate sanitation.

SYMPTOMS

There are two types of Schistosomiasis and each has their own symptoms.

Intestinal Schistosomiasis

  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool
  • Liver Enlargement (advanced cases)
  • Accumulation of fluid in peritoneal cavity (advanced cases)
  • Hypertension of abdominal blood vessels (advanced cases)
  • Enlargement of spleen (advanced cases)

Urogenital Schistosomiasis

  • Hematuria or blood in urine
  • Fibrosis of the bladder or ureter (advanced cases)
  • Kidney damage (advanced cases)
  • Genital lesion (women)
  • Vaginal bleeding (women)
  • Pain during sexual intercourse (women)
  • Nodules in the vulva (women)

DIAGNOSIS

  • Fecal Smear through Kato-Kantz Technique (to detect presence of parasitic eggs)
  • Urine Concentration (to detect presence of parasitic eggs)
  • Biopsy of affected tissue can also determine presence of Schistosome eggs

TREATMENT

  • Prazinquantel (Biltricide)

– But this is only effective on adult worms and not the eggs or immature worms.

Other medications used (but have a limitation in effectiveness against the schistosome):

  • Oxamniquine
  • Metrifonate
  • Artemisinins
  • Trioxolanes

PREVENTION

  1. Avoid swimming in freshwater with a noted occurrence of Schistosomiasis cases.
  2. Ensure safe drinking water. Do not drink from streams, lakes, rivers. If there is no other option, make sure to boil water for 1 minute to effectively kill any bacteria, parasite in it.
  3. If it is really necessary, use boots when wading through lakes, streams and other freshwater.

The World Health Organization has created programs to lessen the number of occurrence of this epidemic. You can check it out through this following links: WHO|Schistosomiasis and WHO|Factsheets.

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