Everything We Need To Know About The Tropical Disease 'Snail Fever'

Everything We Need To Know About The Tropical Disease 'Snail Fever'

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are frequently overlooked in daily news cycles. However, one has been making headlines recently.


Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection. It's caused by blood flukes (trematode worms), which has ravaged several communities in Myanmar, infecting perhaps over 800 people, with 428 confirmed so far.


Known as bilharzia or "snail fever" as well, the parasitic disease is spread through infected trematode worms, mostly carried by freshwater snails. This parasite uses snails as its hosts, developing and multiplying inside them and then leaving them to swim freely into the water.


Dorothy Ndagire is a medical worker in Uganda. Her brother used to be a fisherman and worked close to the shores of Lake Victoria, one among the largest lakes in Africa. As she told RTI International:


"One day, my brother had a huge stomach pain. Then it became hard for him to swallow anything. We transported him to the nearest medical center and he was just vomiting."

Her brother passed away, and Ndagire only realized later when she began her training as a social health worker that it was likely caused by schistosomiasis.



Unfortunately, Ndagire's brother's story isn't unique. Schistosomiasis infects over 200 million people worldwide.


Humans whose epidermis comes in contact with the contaminated water are going to become infected. That includes swimmers, people that bathe in local lakes, or people that work and do chores like washing in the water — therefore, women are disproportionately affected.



The parasites penetrate the human skin and migrate to the lungs or liver, where they start to multiply and mature into adult worms. Adult worms might live in the bladder, rectum, intestines, liver, spleen, lungs, or blood vessels of the body. Female worms will keep on producing eggs — some of which will leave the body through stool or urine. If people urinate or defecate in open water, that can begin a new cycle of infection for others.


Reference: Global Citizen

Everything We Need To Know About The Tropical Disease 'Snail Fever' Everything We Need To Know About The Tropical Disease 'Snail Fever' Reviewed by Katerina Pap on 3:08 AM Rating: 5

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