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Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis, also called bilharziasis, is a slowly progressive disease that is increasing in incidence worldwide. It is most prevalent in agricultural areas in Asia, Africa, and South America.

The degree of infection determines the intensity of illness. If untreated, significant morbidity and even mortality can result.

Causes

Schistosomiasis is caused by parasitic flatworms, called schistosomes. Schistosoma mansoni, Schistosoma japonicum, and Schistosoma haematobium cause illness in humans. The worms live in fresh water in the tropics. To infect humans, the worms must first infect and mature in fresh water snails, which are their "intermediate hosts."

Symptoms and Signs

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain, burning or stinging feeling when you pass urine;
  • Needing to urinate frequently, but only passing small amounts;
  • Dark, cloudy urine, which may smell strongly, or contain blood;
  • Tenderness or pain in the lower back, abdomen, or directly above the pubic bone.

Diagnostic tests

The presence of ova in the urine or stool or a mucosal lesion biopsy confirms the diagnosis. A white blood cell count shows eosinophilia.

Treatment

The treatment of choice for all types of schistosomiasis is the anthelmintic drug praziquantel. The patient needs to be examined again 3 to 6 months after treatment. If this checkup detect any living eggs, treatment may be resumed.

Prevention

Not smoking means that cancer-causing chemicals in smoke can't collect in your bladder.

Seek medical attention early. If you notice blood in your urine, see your doctor.

Drinking liquids, especially water, dilutes toxic substances that may be concentrated in your urine and flushes them out of your bladder more quickly.

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