Condition 101 About Schistosomiasis

What is the definition of Schistosomiasis?

Schistosomiasis is an infection with a type of blood fluke parasite called schistosomes.

What are the alternative names for Schistosomiasis?

Bilharzia; Katayama fever; Swimmer's itch; Blood fluke; Snail fever

What are the causes for Schistosomiasis?

You can get a schistosoma infection through contact with contaminated water. This parasite swims freely in open bodies of fresh water.

When the parasite comes into contact with humans, it burrows into the skin and matures into another stage. Then, it travels to the lungs and liver, where it grows into the adult form of the worm.

The adult worm then travels to its preferred body part, depending on its species. These areas include the:

  • Bladder
  • Rectum
  • Intestines
  • Liver
  • Veins that carry blood from the intestines to the liver
  • Spleen
  • Lungs

Schistosomiasis is not usually seen in the United States except for returning travelers or people from other countries who have the infection and are now living in the US. It is common in many tropical and subtropical areas worldwide.

What are the symptoms for Schistosomiasis?

Symptoms vary with the species of worm and the phase of infection.

  • Many parasites may cause fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, and swollen liver and spleen.
  • When the worm first gets into the skin, it may cause itching and a rash (swimmer's itch). In this condition, the schistosome is destroyed within the skin.
  • Intestinal symptoms include abdominal pain and diarrhea (which may be bloody).
  • Urinary symptoms may include frequent urination, painful urination, and blood in the urine.

What are the current treatments for Schistosomiasis?

This infection is usually treated with the drug praziquantel or oxamniquine. This is usually given along with corticosteroids. If the infection is severe or involves the brain, corticosteroids may be given first.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Schistosomiasis?

Treatment before significant damage or severe complications occur usually produces good results.

What are the possible complications for Schistosomiasis?

These complications may occur:

  • Bladder cancer
  • Chronic kidney failure
  • Chronic liver damage and an enlarged spleen
  • Colon (large intestine) inflammation
  • Kidney and bladder blockage
  • High blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs (pulmonary hypertension)
  • Repeated blood infections, if bacteria enter the bloodstream through an irritated colon
  • Right-sided heart failure
  • Seizures

When should I contact a medical professional for Schistosomiasis?

Call your provider if you develop symptoms of schistosomiasis, especially if you have:

  • Traveled to a tropical or subtropical area where the disease is known to exist
  • Been exposed to contaminated or possibly contaminated bodies of water

How do I prevent Schistosomiasis?

Follow these steps to avoid getting this infection:

  • Avoid swimming or bathing in contaminated or potentially contaminated water.
  • Avoid bodies of water if you do not know whether they are safe.

Snails can host this parasite. Getting rid of snails in bodies of water used by humans may help prevent infection.



Bogitsh BJ, Carter CE, Oeltmann TN. Blood flukes. In: Bogitsh BJ, Carter CE, Oeltmann TN, eds. Human Parasitology. 5th ed. London, UK: Elsevier Academic Press; 2019:chap 11.

Carvalho EM, Lima AAM. Schistosomiasis (bilharziasis). In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 355.

Top Global Doctors For Schistosomiasis

Govert J. Van Dam
Leiden, ZH, NL
Jurg Utzinger
Basel, BS, CH
David Rollinson
London, ENG, GB
Joanne P. Webster
London, ENG, GB

Latest Advances On Schistosomiasis

  • Condition: Intestinal Schistosomiasis
  • Journal: PLoS neglected tropical diseases
  • Treatment Used: Praziquantel and Dihydroartemisinin Piperaquine Combination
  • Number of Patients: 639
  • Published —
The study researched the outcomes of praziquantel and dihydroartemisinin piperaquine combination for treating intestinal schistosomiasis.
  • Condition: Human Schistosomiasis
  • Journal: PLoS neglected tropical diseases
  • Treatment Used: CIDD-00149830 and CIDD-0072229
  • Number of Patients: 0
  • Published —
The study researched the outcomes of CIDD-00149830 and CIDD-0072229 in treating human schistosomiasis.

Clinical Trials For Schistosomiasis

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 2
  • Intervention Type: Drug
  • Participants: 600
  • Start Date: February 1, 2021
Phase II PK/PD Driven Dose Finding Trial of Praziquantel in Children Under Four
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: Phase 2/Phase 3
  • Intervention Type: Drug, Dietary Supplement
  • Participants: 360
  • Start Date: January 4, 2021
Clinical Evaluation of Ujiplus®, a Porridge Snack With Deworming Properties for Activity Against Schistosoma Mansoni