• Schistosomiasis is an acute and chronic disease caused by parasitic worms.

  • People are infected during routine agricultural, domestic, occupational, and recreational activities, which expose them to infested water.

  • Lack of hygiene and certain play habits of school-aged children such as swimming or fishing in infested water make them especially vulnerable to infection.

  • Schistosomiasis control focuses on reducing disease through periodic, large-scale population treatment with praziquantel; a more comprehensive approach including potable water, adequate sanitation, and snail control would also reduce transmission.

  • Spraying two to three times a year with Endod (African soapberry, Phytolacca dodecandra) suspension in affected waters as well as annual mass use of praziquantel will suppress snail and parasite population and significantly decrease transmission and disease.

  • Estimates show that at least 220.8 million people required preventive treatment for schistosomiasis in 2017, out of which more than 102.3 million people were reported to have been treated.

  • Within days after becoming infected, you may develop a rash or itchy skin. Fever, chills, cough, abdominal pain, diarrhea and muscle aches (Katayama fever) can begin within 1-2 months of infection. Most people have no symptoms at this early phase of infection.

  • When adult worms are present, the eggs that are produced usually travel to the intestine, liver or bladder, causing inflammation or scarring. Children who are repeatedly infected can develop anemia, malnutrition, and learning difficulties. After years of infection, the parasite can also damage the liver, intestine, lungs, and bladder. Eggs are at times found in the brain or spinal cord and can cause seizures, paralysis, or spinal cord inflammation.

  • Symptoms of schistosomiasis are caused by the body’s reaction to the eggs produced by worms, not by the worms themselves.

  • 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.

  • Avoid eating freshwater snails at all cost. If you cannot do that use proper hygienic handling of the snails and boil the snails at high temperature for at least 30 minutes before eating. Wash all cookware and utensils used in handling the fresh, raw snails properly and hygienically.

  • 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.