Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia) is a vector-borne parasitic disease caused by trematode flatworms of the genus Schistosoma.
Freshwater snails act as the vector, releasing larval forms of the parasite into water. These larvae subsequently penetrate the skin of people who are in that water (e.g. fishermen). The larvae develop into adult schistosomes in the body, and are either released through urine or cause an immune reaction (if they remain in the body).
There are two main forms of schistosomiasis:
- urinary schistosomiasis – which mainly affects the bladder, ureters and kidneys
- intestinal schistosomiasis – which mainly affects the liver and spleen and causes intestinal damage and hypertension of the abdominal blood vessels.
The disease can be treated with drugs, while control efforts include those that target the vector.
TDR related research
TDR supports research on this disease. Our work is being conducted in the following areas:
Climate change and health research profiled at international conference
Assessing the need for a schistosomiasis treatment database
Enhanced informed consent form published
Adaptation to social, environmental and climate change impacts on vector-borne diseases
Research priorities for helminth infections
Research Priorities for Zoonoses and Marginalized Infections