Schistosomiasis - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Schistosomes

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Schistosomiasis - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Schistosomes
Schistosomiasis - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Schistosomes

Video: Schistosomiasis - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Schistosomes

Video: Schistosomiasis - Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Of Schistosomes
Video: Schistosomiasis | Bilharziasis | Causes, Symptoms and Treatment 2023, December

Last updated 1 March 2020 at 00:48

Reading time: 7 minutes

Schistosomiasis (otherwise - bilharziasis) is a parasitic disease common in the tropics. It is caused by fluke-schistosomes that penetrate the skin through water or contact with an infected person.

The main symptom of the disease is itching, and skin inflammation is common. The disease manifests itself in the form of a set of toxic-allergic reactions, which make it possible to determine the onset of the disease.

Schistosomiasis is often not amenable to rapid diagnosis, as it does not have specific symptoms and can be confused with other types of diseases. However, it differs from other parasitic diseases in its pronounced skin symptoms. In severe cases, damage to the liver, genitourinary system and other organs is possible.

The disease in connection with the habitat of the parasite occurs mainly in the southern countries of Africa, Asia, and South America. It is in these areas that 9/10 of the entire population of the Earth is infected.

Those who are in other areas should not be so afraid of infection, but there is still a chance, especially in contact with an infected person, of which there are more than 230 million.


  • 1 Types of schistosomes
  • 2 Causes of schistosomiasis
  • 3 Mechanism of infection
  • 4 Symptoms of the disease
  • 5 Complications of the disease
  • 6 Diagnosis of schistosomiasis
  • 7 Treatment for schistosomiasis
  • 8 Prevention of disease

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Types of schistosomes


There are four types of schistosome parasites, which differ in their habitat, symptoms and mechanism of entry into the body. Most often, two types are considered: urogenital and intestinal, while the remaining two have received little attention.

The latter include a certain Japanese schistosomiasis and another schistosoma, an incompletely studied and not widely spread species. Genitourinary and intestinal, respectively, occupy these areas in the body and cause a detrimental effect on them and the person in general.

A more detailed description of the species:

Intestinal schistosomiasis. It is caused by several types of trematode parasites. They are found in different areas, respectively, the symptoms differ somewhat according to the areas of distribution. They are named after the fact that, penetrating into the body, after reproduction, they settle in the intestines and have a major effect on it.

Genitourinary schistosomiasis. This disease begins with a parasite entering the pelvic area through the venous system. Parasites multiply in the veins near the bladder and in the urinary system in general, as well as in the fallopian tubes. This parasite lives not only in water bodies, but also in wet grass.

It was discovered by the scientist Bilgarz, which is why the disease is also called bilharziasis. In connection with this type, complications may arise in the urinary and reproductive systems, leading to infertility, cancer.

Japanese schistosomiasis. Most often, despite the name, it is found in the Philippines, China. It differs from the intestinal parasite in that females have an enormous reproductive ability: they lay ten times more eggs than an ordinary schistosome, and this species spreads faster. Symptoms as in intestinal schistosomiasis.

Causes of schistosomiasis


Schistosomiasis, like many other parasitic diseases, is caused by poor hygiene. On the other hand, this disease differs in that most often the parasite enters the skin through water bodies, of which there are countless numbers in the tropical zone.

Also, the carriers of the disease can be animals that have come into contact with the contaminated water body, and food products that are also related to it.

So, the reasons can be:

  • First of all - swimming in dirty water bodies not protected by the state. It is worth cooling only where the water undergoes a course of disinfection from worms, and the waters themselves do not have a strange cloudy or greenish tint
  • Upon contact with an infected person. After it, it is enough to touch your lips with your fingers or eat any fruit without washing your hands - the parasite will enter the body, thus provoking a disease in humans
  • Hand washing is a common prerequisite for prevention of schistosomiasis, so neglecting it creates a huge risk of infection
  • Contact with animals is also one of the common reasons. Many mammals are also capable of contracting this type of parasite, and through them - people
  • Food processing rules are often forgotten, and insufficient heat or other processing allows parasite larvae to enter the body. The likelihood of schistosome getting into food is very small, but it may well be when an infected person comes into contact with food.
  • Eating fruits and vegetables without washing increases the risk of illness
  • Washing clothes in the same dirty ponds
  • Generally being close to infected areas: both land and water, for example, fishing

Infection mechanism


Mature parasites from the host's body, together with feces or urine, excrete eggs, which then begin to infect living organisms. They enter water bodies, where the most favorable environment for their development.

The aquatic environment allows the egg to develop into a ciliated larva, which infects the snails. They are intermediate hosts, providing the parasite with conditions for the development of cercariae asexually. Cercariae are larvae that are already able to move freely in water.

Due to their mobility, they easily penetrate under the skin of an animal, if they are animal parasites, or under the skin and into the human circulatory system. In the future, the parasite goes through the next stage of already active development in the human body, affecting the body's systems and organs.

Symptoms of the disease


Symptoms are primarily related to the skin. There are two types of disease course: chronic and acute. Symptoms also vary depending on it.

Often, the initial symptom is that the infected person is feeling unwell. For about half a day after infection, tingling and itching are felt in the skin area during the dispersal of the parasites. Itching is associated with rashes or scabies that began at the site of the invasion of parasites.

Special symptoms are characteristic when schistosomes enter the body of animals, not humans. They are not able to live in the human epidermis, therefore they die under a small layer of skin. In this case, itching has a much more acute form, but the disease, called cercariasis, passes faster than schistosomes.

Subsequently, people develop the following signs of schistosomiasis:

  • Swelling at the site of penetration of parasites, not too large
  • Hives-like allergies
  • Headaches accompanied by fever
  • Fever accompanied by chills, temperature fluctuations, excessive sweating
  • Aching pain in muscles and joints is common
  • Dry cough
  • Blood clots in the urine
  • Increased liver size
  • For intestinal schistosomiasis, diarrhea, abdominal pain, blood in the feces

Most of these symptoms refer to a severe form of schistosoma, while the initial stage is characterized by only small rashes and a slight increase in drowsiness.

If the symptoms correspond to the above, it is necessary to urgently consult a doctor in order to save the life of the infected.

Complications of the disease


Because the disease is dangerous, it can lead to a number of serious complications, including infertility in both sexes, cirrhosis of the liver and other problems with it, hydronephrosis. The most serious case is death. It can be achieved only with the wrong or completely absent treatment.

A more complete list of complications:

  • bladder cancer
  • reproductive system cancer
  • AIDS
  • Cancer tumors in other parts of the body

Diagnosis of schistosomiasis


A number of tests are used to diagnose the disease, which give fairly accurate results. When it comes to a life-threatening disease, tests must be as accurate as possible.

Analysis of urine, blood, feces, ultrasound, x-ray is used. The first three analyzes allow you to find toxins characteristic of schistosomes, blood clots in the secretions, parasite eggs. A blood test, in particular, gives an idea of the amount and generally the presence of antibodies that appear in case of infection. A large number indicates an accurate infection.

In rare cases, X-rays can be used to see if organs are infected. This is most easily seen on the lungs. Ultrasound is aimed at the same: checking organs, in particular the liver, heart.

Positive results of ultrasound for parasites are the basis for immediately seeking treatment. In some situations, additional examination of the intestines and bladder is necessary, namely, the removal of samples for parasites. Constantly conducting tests, studying the size of organs (with schistosoma)

Treatment for schistosomiasis


Treatment of schistosomiasis should take place as soon as possible so that the patient does not face complications. Schistosoma, to get rid of it, requires an intensive course of treatment.

First of all, the patient must be placed in a hospital under the constant supervision of a doctor. In the case of the possibility of death, this point is undeniable. In the hospital, the patient is prescribed a course of drugs.

Treatment should also be under the supervision of a physician because the dosage of drugs must be constantly adjusted. One of the most effective drugs, Prazincatel, takes only two to three days to get rid of the schistosoma and complete treatment. However, not everyone has access to this medicine, and in addition to the very cause of the disease, it is necessary to cope with its residual symptoms.

In some cases, drugs are used against intestinal infections, here already the course of treatment can last more than a month. Even with a successful course of recovery, the patient is obliged to undergo regular examinations and be tested not subject to parasites.

Unfortunately, medical treatment of schistosoma can only help in the initial stages of the disease. In the future, when serious problems with the genitourinary system begin, the intervention of a surgeon is necessary.

The foci of stenosis, another complication of the disease, are removed. With the timely start of treatment for schistosomiasis, its symptoms and especially treatment are significantly alleviated.

Disease prevention


First of all, it is necessary to remember about washing your hands before eating and especially after the street, because it is outside the house that it is easiest to stumble upon an infected person. Do not forget that the focus of the disease may be under your nose, in the form of your pet, so after contact with him, do not forget to wash your hands.

Foodstuffs that do not need to be additionally cooked, and lose their taste when frozen, should be washed or kept in sterile packaging for bread.

Do not allow children to walk with uncut, dirty nails: many harmful organisms accumulate under them, which can easily enter the digestive tract when licking fingers or if nails bite.

Never fish in bodies of water that are not under government supervision. Do not wash your clothes and do not lower your limbs into a pond if there have been cases of vague itching after swimming, and even more so the disease itself.

Agriculture, which includes watering from a reservoir and contact with previously watered land, can also lead to infection, so you need to wear gloves and work only with non-contaminated water, especially since it can get on the grown fruits.

Maintaining and improving immunity implies taking a course of vitamins and minerals, hardening and another set of measures chosen individually.