Could This Child Have Schistosomiasis? When to Suspect It and What to Do About It
Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia, is a waterborne parasitic disease that affects over 230 million people worldwide, accounting for 1.44 million disability-adjusted life years lost.1,2 It is caused by trematode parasites of the genus Schistosoma, (S.) which have intricate life cycles requiring human freshwater contact and the presence of a suitable snail vector. Transmission occurs during freshwater contact, as cercariae penetrate human skin and migrate via major blood vessels to final venous plexuses. The lifespan of a schistosome ranges between 3 and 10 years but can live up to 40 years.
Schistosomiasis, the disease caused by Schistosoma infection, is comprised of 2 clinical syndromes: intestinal schistosomiasis or urogenital schistosomiasis, depending on the parasite’s vascular home. Morbidity relates to a hyper-immune response to egg antigen release, causing a granulomatous reaction impairing organ functioning.
This review aims to summarize the most common clinical manifestations of schistosomiasis in different populations of children (migrants versus returned travelers after short stays) with a proposed screening and treatment algorithm.