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Schistosomiasis Causes

Schistosomiasis is caused by several parasitic species of fluke that belong to the Schistosoma genus. There are currently 5 species of flatworms that have been identified as causes of this disease.

Schistosomiasis Definition

Schistosomiasis pertains to a parasitic disorder caused by several species of fluke found mostly in Asia, South America, Africa, as well as in areas with water contaminated by parasite-carrying snails. Although it has a relatively low mortality rate, schistosomiasis is definitely a chronic, potentially debilitating disease that can lead to severe damage to the liver and intestines. Schistosomiasis is also called bilharzias, bilharziosis or snail fever.

Schistosomiasis Diagnosis

A microscopic exam of stool and urine samples can be done to determine the presence of the parasite's eggs. In the event that stool and urine exams turn out negative, a tissue biopsy can be done to reveal the presence of eggs.

Schistosomiasis Symptoms and Signs

This chronic infection manifests with abdominal pain, diarrhea, cough, increased eosinophil granulocyte, fatigue, fever, as well as spleen and liver enlargement (hepatosplenomegaly). In some cases, schistosomiasis causes lesions in the central nervous system. If the infection persists, it can lead to granulomatous reactions and fibrosis in the affected organs. Complications include colonic polyposis with bloody diarrhea and portal hypertension. In addition, cystitis and ureteritis with hematuria may develop, which can potentially progress to cancer of the bladder. Pulmonary hypertension, glomerulonephritis, and central nervous system lesions may appear.

Schistosomiasis Treatment

Schistosomiasis can be treated orally with Praziquantel, a drug that has been proven safe and effective in curing the infection. However, while the medication has high efficacy, it cannot successfully prevent a re-infection. Current research efforts are focused on developing a vaccine that will effectively prevent the parasite from completing its life cycle in human hosts.

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