Flukes in the blood



By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi



One of the neglected tropical diseases is a parasitic worm infection known as Schistosomiasis. It is considered by the World Health Organization as the second most socioeconomically devastating parasitic disease after malaria. It is caused by a worm called schistosome.
Infection could occur when agricultural, recreational and domestic activities are carried out in contaminated water. Fresh water sources become contaminated when faeces containing parasitic eggs are released into the water. Tropical and non-tropical areas such as Africa that have no access to safe drinking water are common places where this infection persists.
Adult worms live in blood vessels, which is why they are called blood flukes. The females release eggs that either hatch in the body or let out to the environment through faeces. Then the cycle continues.
The symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and blood in the stool. Some symptoms occur as a result of the body reacting to the presence of the worm’s eggs. Liver or spleen enlargement, kidney damage, fibrosis of ureter and bladder are some of the symptoms of advanced cases of schistosomiasis. This can also lead to death.
Pyraziquantel taken for 1-2 days based on prescription will swiftly take care of the infection. Prevention is essential in regions where schistosomiasis is transmitted. Prevention includes the need to:
·         Drink and bath with previously boiled or filtered water (Iodine treatment might not guarantee water safety )
·         Avoid swimming in freshwater, swimming in chlorinated swimming pool or oceans are safe.
To control further spread of the infection in infested areas, improved sanitation and mass treatment of the people in such areas can curb the spread.

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/schistosomiasis/
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