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Alternative namesBilharzia; Katayama fever; Swimmer's itch; Blood fluke
DefinitionSchistosomiasis is an infection caused by one of the five species of the parasite, Schistosoma.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Schistosoma infections are contracted 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 larval stage (schistosomula), then migrates to the lungs and liver (where it matures into the adult form).
The adult worm then migrates to the anatomic area of its preference, depending on which species is involved. Likely areas include the bladder, rectum, intestines, liver, portal venous system, spleen, and lungs.
Signs and tests
Expectations (prognosis)Treatment before significant damage or severe complications usually produces good results.
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if you have traveled to an area where the disease is known to exist, have had exposure to contaminated or suspect bodies of water, or have developed symptoms suggestive of schistosomiasis.
Update Date: 8/14/2002Donna R. Cooper, MD, MPH. Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT