Schistosomiasis (or bilharzia) is a serious disease caused by a parasitic worm.W The parasite must be carried by snails as part of its life cycle, and the disease has been introduced into new regions through large irrigation projects which bring year-round water to regions which would naturally have a dry period. The year-round water allows the snails to flourish without a die-off,
While it is little known in developed countries, it is ranked by the World Health Organization as the second most socioeconomically devastating parasitic disease, after malaria. There are hundreds of millions infected worldwide. It is classed as a Neglected Tropical Disease.
Prevention[edit | edit source]
- Allowing a time for fields to dry out can reduce snail populations and break the life-cycle.
- Preventing human waste from entering waterways where snails may live. This includes urination (depending on the variety of schistosome).
- Avoiding unnecessary skin contact with water where there is a risk of the disease. Providing alternative swimming facilities for children is important, though often unaffordable. Preventing human waste from entering the water may be more affordable, but it is impossible to completely prevent the release of urine while swimming.
- The farming of water animals which eat the parasite, such as prawns.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- "Schistosomiasis Fact Sheet". World Health Organization. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- "Schistosomiasis". Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 10 August 2011.
- How prawn farms in Senegal are combating schistosomiasis, The Guardian, 30 December 2012.