Schistosomiasis

Dr Henry Knipe et al.

Schistosomiasis (also referred to as bilharzia or snail fever) is the result of infection by blood fluke (trematode worm) of the Schistosoma species.

Epidemiology

Schistosomiasis is very common, affecting over 200 million people, with the vast majority (85%) in Africa. It is prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas, especially in rural regions 1,2.  

Pathology

There are five species of the blood fluke (trematode worm) Schistosoma species that cause disease in humans 1:

  • Schistosoma haematobium
  • S. mansoni
  • S. japononicum
  • S. intercalatum
  • S. mekongi

Larvae are released from snails (intermediate host) into water and penetrate human skin (definitive host) exposed to the infected water. These larvae travel to the lungs and liver of the human host, where they reside until they mature. After maturation, the adult worm invades the bloodstream and deposited in local tissues, invoking a granulomatous response. 

Schistosomiasis can manifest in a number of ways 3,4

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Article Information

rID: 42929
Section: Pathology
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • bilharzia
  • snail fever

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Cases and Figures

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    Figure 1: Schistosoma parasite worm
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