Schistosomiasis, which in common terms is known by the name of bilharzia, is an extremely serious parasitic disease caused by Schistosoma also known as Blood Fluke. It is a parasitic worm which has infected millions of people worldwide especially in the economically backward countries. It has been estimated that more than 200 million humans around the world are infected by this devastating parasitic infection called Schistosomiasis.
Once inside the body of the humans, these worms stay in the blood vessels for years and avoid the immune system and lay numerous eggs on a daily basis . These eggs are either excreted from the body or get trapped in the tissues and vessels. The eggs that get trapped are the ones that cause significant pathological effects. These effects range from anemia to various cognitive disorders and significant organ damage. Portal hypertension is the most common illness caused by Schistosomiasis .
The most common mode of transmission of the parasite is through contaminated water. The larvae of the parasite are released from snails residing in fresh water and when a human comes in contact with it the parasite infiltrates the body. Once inside the body the larvae transform into an adult Schistosome and reside in the blood vessels where the female lays thousands of eggs every day .
Sschistosomiasis tends to become deadly once the parasite trapped in the tissues start to damage the vital organs of the body. Thus it is important to now the various signs and symptoms of Schistosomiasis. This article highlights how to know if someone has Sschistosomiasis and ways to confirm it .
How Do I Know If I Have Schistosomiasis?
The primary symptoms of Schistosomiasis are caused as a reaction of the body to the eggs of the Schistosome parasite. If the worms have damaged the intestinal area then the affected individual will have persistent abdominal pain along with diarrhea and rectal bleeding. In cases where the condition has reached at an advanced stage then hepatomegaly is a common finding. Splenomegaly may also be noted along with increased pressure within the blood vessels in the abdomen .
If the worms have damaged the genitourinary system, then the first sign would be hematuria. Damage to the kidneys is also noted in advanced cases along with fibrosis of the ureter and bladder. In some cases, the affected individual may also end up being diagnosed with bladder cancer .
In cases of females, if the genitourinary system gets affected by Schistosomiasis, then the individual experiences vaginal bleeding, genital lesions, and dyspareunia. Other than the harmful effects that Schistosomiasis causes to the body, it also causes significant psychological impairments as well. In fact, Schistosomiasis leads to disability more than actual fatalities .
Children affected by Schistosomiasis tend to have difficulty in acquiring new skills along with anemia. However, these traits can be reversed with appropriate treatment. In adults, it may affect the ability to work and be productive. Sschistosomiasis has also proved to be fatal in many casesm even though how many fatalities have been caused is difficult to estimate due to other causes liver kidney and liver failure along with bladder cancer also being a contributing factor .
A study estimates that around 200,000 fatalities were reported every year as a result of Schistosomiasis worldwide at the onset of the 21st century. However, this number has come down quite dramatically with greater awareness and campaigns carried out educating people about this disease, especially in the socioeconomically backward countries .
The best chances for treatment for Schistosomiasis to be successful are by diagnosing this condition in its early stages. Thus paying attention to the symptoms is important. This is especially true for people who have just visited third world countries and may have been exposed to contaminated water. If an individual experiences any of the symptoms mentioned above, then a visit to a physician is a must .
The diagnosis of Schistosomiasis is made through identification of eggs either in the stool or the urine. There will also be antigens detected in the blood suggesting Schistosomiasis. For individuals with genitourinary symptoms, the diagnosis is made through a filtration method using nylon or paper .
For people who are most vulnerable to this disease, frequent serological and immunological tests are required to test them for Schistosomiasis. Once the condition is diagnosed, the patient should be treated aggressively and monitored through diligent followups to keep a tab on the spread of Schistosomiasis .