Bilharzia; Katayama fever; Swimmer's itch; Blood fluke
Schistosomiasis is infection with a type of Schistosoma parasite.
You get a schistosoma infection through contact with contaminated water. The parasite in its infective stages is called a cercaria. It swims freely in open bodies of water.
On contact with humans, the parasite burrows into the skin, matures into another stage (schistosomula), then migrates to the lungs and liver, where it matures into the adult form.
The adult worm then migrates to its preferred body part, depending on its species. These areas include the bladder, rectum, intestines, liver, portal venous system (the veins that carry blood from the intestines to liver), spleen, and lungs.
Schistosomiasis is not usually seen in the United States. It is common in many tropical and subtropical areas worldwide.
Symptoms vary with the species of worm and the phase of infection.
This infection is usually treated with the drug praziquantel. If the infection is severe or involves the brain, corticosteroids may be given.
Treatment before significant damage or severe complications occur usually produces good results.
Call your health care provider if you develop symptoms of schistosomiasis, especially if you have traveled to a tropical or sub-tropical area where the disease is known to exist or if you have been exposed to contaminated or suspect bodies of water.
Snails are an intermediate host for the parasite. Getting rid of snails in bodies of water used by humans would help prevent infection.
© 2011 University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). All rights reserved.
UMMC is a member of the University of Maryland Medical System,
22 S. Greene Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. TDD: 1-800-735-2258 or 1.866.408.6885