According to World Health Organization(WHO) Schistosomiasis progress report of 2001-2011 and strategic plan 2012-2020.(2010), Nigeria has the highest number of Schistosomiasis cases in the world-in the African region, and over 26% of people requiring chemotherapy reside in Nigeria. Large water bodies such as lakes, irrigated lands, and dams are also keys for Schistosomiasis transmission and epidemiology, particularly in Africa.
Schistosomiasis is second only to malaria as the most devastating parasitic disease in tropical countries and it is also considered as one of the Neglected tropical Disease (NTDs).
What is Schistosomiasis?
Schistosomiasis which is also known as bilharziasis is a disease caused by parasitic worms(trematode worm).
Depending on the types of worm, schistosomiasis or bilharziasis can affect the intestines, the urinary system thereby increasing the risk of bladder cancer, the liver, the spleen, the lungs the spinal cord and brain
Transmission: How do you get Schistosomiasis?
Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic trematode worm know as schistosomes. Five species infect humans namely schistosoma mansoni, schistosoma japonicum, schistosoma mekongi, schistosomaintercalatum and schistosoma hematobium.
People are infected when the larval forms (cercariae) of the parasite released by freshwater snails penetrate the skin during contact with infested water.
Transmission of schistosomiasis occur when people suffering from the disease contaminate freshwater with their excreta containing the parasite eggs, which then hatch in the water.
What are the Symptoms of Schistosomiasis?
Most people do not develop symptoms until the eggs develop about one to two month after initial skin penetrations. The symptoms include:
Diagnosis of Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis can be diagnosed through the detection of parasite eggs microscopically in the stool sample or urine sample.
Treatment for Schistosomiasis
No vaccine is available for the treatment of schistosomiasis, Praziquantel is the most effective drug for treating Schistosomiasis
What are the Preventive and Control measures for Schistosomiasis?
According to CDC (center for disease control) Schistosomiasis can be prevented through the following means or measures:
Avoid swimming or wading in freshwater when you are in countries in which Schistosomiasis occurs. Swimming in the ocean and in chlorinated swimming pools is safe.
Drink safe water. Although Schistosomiasis is not transmitted by swallowing contaminated water, if your mouth or lips come in contact with water containing the parasites, you could become infected. Because water coming directly from canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs may be contaminated with a variety of infectious organisms, you should either boil water for 1 minute or filter water before drinking it. Boiling water for at least 1 minute will kill any harmful parasites, bacteria, or viruses present. Iodine treatment alone WILL NOT GUARANTEE that water is safe and free of all parasites.
Bath water should be heated to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute. Water held in a storage tank for at least 1-2 days should be safe for bathing.
Vigorous towel drying after an accidental, very brief water exposure may help to prevent the Schistosoma parasite from penetrating the skin. However, you should NOT rely on vigorous towel drying to prevent Schistosomiasis.
Reviewed on 16/04/2020
Samuel Aluh received his Bachelor of Science degree from Osun State University Osogbo Osun State (UNIOSUN). He is presently undergoing a postgraduate study in Public health and Parasitology at the University of Nigeria. He also has professional certification in project management as well as in health safety and environment.
He is a young, vibrant and intelligent individual with a great passion for public health, Neglected Tropical Disease (NTDs) and infectious disease.