What Is Schistosomiasis?

What Is Schistosomiasis? Schistosomiasis ( bilharzia ) is an infection caused by parasitic skisosome worms found in freshwater, such as ponds, lakes, rivers, reservoirs and canal water in countries with tropical and subtropical weather. Parasites are usually attached to the body of a snail. Therefore, this infection is also commonly referred to as snail fever. There are several types of parasitic skistosoma that may cause schistosomiasis to occur, including S. mansoni, S. mekongi, S. intercalatum, S. hematobium, and S. japonicum. These types of parasites can attack human organs, such as the intestines, kidneys, liver, bladder, heart, lungs, to the nerves of the brain.

Causes of Schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis can occur when a person is exposed to water that has been contaminated by parasitic worms or there are contaminated snails. This can happen when a person is swimming, washing, or consuming water that has not been sterilized. These worms will not be found in pools that have been given chlorine, seawater, and water are sterile.

Schistosomiasis parasitic worms enter into the human body through the skin surface and spread to other organs through the blood vessels. After a few weeks, the worm will start to incubate its eggs. In some cases, the eggs will be killed by the immune system or out through the urine and faeces. On the contrary, some are actually spreading and infecting certain organs. This condition is called acute Schistosomiasis. If left untreated, the worm will continue to incubate its eggs, spread the infection for years and lead to chronic chronic cystosomiasis and potentially cause harmful complications.

Schistosomiasis can not be spread by direct physical contact, and only through urine or faeces contaminating fresh water or other clean water.

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Symptoms of Schistosomiasis
Most patients do not experience symptoms until several months or years after parasite exposure. But there can also experience symptoms such as itching, skin irritation, red rash appear and lumps on the infected skin, shortly after exposure.

Here are the common symptoms experienced after one to two months of exposure to parasites:
  • Dizzy.
  • High fever.
  • Shivering.
  • Feeling unwell.
  • Itchy and appear red or stained rash on the skin.
  • Cough.
  • Diarrhea .
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Muscle and joint pain.
  • Feeling pain while urinating.

If the infected infection has entered a chronic stage, the following symptoms may be experienced:
  • Swelling of the abdomen, kidneys, or spleen.
  • Urine and stools with blood.
  • Easy to feel tired.
  • Shortness of breath accompanied by cough.
  • Chest pain.
  • Heart palpitations (palpitations).
  • Changes in mental state.
  • Seizures .
  • Paralyzed.
  • Appears the lesion on the vulva or perianal area.
  • Inflammation of the spinal cord.
  • Damage to organs such as liver, bladder, intestine, or lungs.

Immediately see a doctor if you feel any symptoms of schistosomiasis, or have contaminated water that potentially has a parasitic skistosoma.

Diagnosis of Schistosomiasiss
To distinguish the symptoms of Schistosomiasis with similar conditions of worm infection, the doctor will examine the physical condition as well as ask about the activities that were done before. If suspected potential infection of Schistosomiasis, further tests will be performed, such as:
  • Blood tests, which include a complete blood count (HDL) to check for potential anemia and white blood cell count (eosinophil) tests to monitor immune conditions.
  • Laboratory tests, such as urinalysis and stool sample tests to check if there are parasitic eggs.
  • An antibody test, to check if there are any signs of infection in the body.
  • Organ function tests, which include examination of kidney and liver organ functions.
  • Scan tests, such as CT scan, MRI, chest x-ray, echocardiogram, or ultrasound.
  • A tissue biopsy, to check for any abnormalities or other serious problems.
Treatment of Schistosomiasis
Infections of Schistosomiasis can generally be treated through the consumption of drugs in the short term, especially if given early. Praziquantel is the drug that is the top choice in this case, but it can only work when the worm has grown a little in the body, or about 8 weeks since it has been contaminated.

If the condition is severe enough, such as the presence of symptoms that potentially damage the brain organ or the central nervous system, corticosteroid drug group is likely to be given.

In rare cases, surgical procedures to remove tumor clots, ligation of esophageal varices if there is gastric varicose, granuloma removal, or shunt fitting may be possible .

Complications of Schistosomiasis
If treatment is not done properly or late, the following are potential complications that can occur due to schistosomiasis:
  • Bladder cancer.
  • Chronic renal failure.
  • Chronic liver damage.
  • Obstruction of the liver and bladder.
  • Difficulty dumping urine.
  • Inflammation of the large intestine (colon).
  • Pulmonary hypertension .
  • Repeated blood infections.
  • Right heart failure.
  • Dead.

Prevention of Schistosomiasis
Until now, there has not been any medical vaccinations or special means that may help prevent the onset of a schistosomiasis infection. The main thing is to avoid contact with fresh water in potentially contaminated areas.

If you are visiting an area that is potentially contaminated with skistosoma or you are uncertain about the condition of the area, here are the precautionary steps you can take:
  • Avoid swimming or playing in fresh water.
  • Use antique pants and boots when walking around the area suspected of being contaminated.
  • Avoid contact with snails that roam around fresh water or mud.
  • Immediately clean the affected areas of dirty water to reduce the potential for infection.
  • Boil water for 1 minute before drinking or consume mineral water packaging that has been guaranteed cleanliness.
  • Use clean water for bathing and washing purposes. If you are unsure of the cleanliness of water in your home, it is recommended to boil it for 5 minutes before use.

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