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What is Bilharzia – symptoms, causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The Bilharzia is a disease parasitic caused by worms. It is actually the worm eggs that damage the intestines, bladder, and other organs. This disease is the second most common in tropical countries. If schistosomiasis is left untreated, serious complications can occur quickly. A person can be infected when their skin comes into contact with contaminated water.

The parasites penetrate the skin, then migrate through the body to the blood vessels of the lungs and liver. From there they begin to move through the veins into the intestine and bladder. The worms lay their eggs that can be expelled through urine or feces, or remain in the tissues of the human host. The eggs that remain in the host are generally found in the liver or bladder.

Schistosomiasis: causes

In general, Bilharzia or schistosomiasis, is an infection that is contracted by contact with contaminated water. The fact is that this parasite is found in fresh water bodies located outdoors. The moment this parasite comes into contact with a human being, after penetrating the skin, it matures and passes to the next stage. At that time it evolves and begins to migrate to the liver and lungs, at which time it matures and becomes a worm, its adult form.

Depending on the species, this worm travels to one area of ​​the body or another. These areas are generally:

  • The rectum.
  • The intestines.
  • The liver.
  • Spleen
  • Lungs.
  • The veins of the lungs.

It should be said that this is a disease that is not usually observed in western countries, on the contrary, it is common in subtropical and tropical areas. In fact, it is estimated that nearly 600 million people worldwide are at risk for this infection. Some of the main causes of contamination are the following:

  • Extreme poverty.
  • Ignorance of the risks.
  • Insufficiency or lack of public health services.
  • Unsanitary living conditions.
  • Movements of people from countries where the disease is endemic.
  • Rapid urbanization.

Symptoms of Bilharzia

Within days of becoming infected with the parasite, a rash or itchy skin will begin to appear. One to two months, the person who has been infected may experience fatigue, fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, abdominal pain, diarrhea, dysentery and blood in the urine. This phase coincides with the maturation of the worms in the body, and is known as Katayama fever.

The schistosomiasis acute characterized by the presence of intense itching and skin spots that may occur in the first 24 hours after bathing in contaminated water. Later, and always after at least two weeks, the patient may present what is called Katayama syndrome , which consists of fever, chills, headache, generalized measles-like lesions, weakness, weight loss, abdominal pain and, in some cases, diarrhea. These symptoms gradually subside but can last as long as 2 or 3 months. The parasites subsequently migrate to the intestine or urinary bladder producing the symptoms of chronic disease:

  • In the intestine they produce bloody diarrhea.
  • In the veins of the liver they produce the formation of fluid (ascites) in the abdomen.
  • They produce bloody urine in the urinary bladder.

Schistosomiasis: treatment and prevention

For bilharzia, praziquantel is one of the most effective drugs that exist, especially when this infection is in its acute phase. However, there are also other medications that can be used that are recommended by the WHO, for example, mebendazole or albendazole .

However, it must be known that these drugs do not prevent them from being reinfected, so although it may be a good solution in acute cases, it is not optimal for those who live in areas where this disease is endemic. . On the other hand, as with many other parasitic diseases, in these areas treatment is almost as important as prevention.

In this case, prevention is usually the elimination of certain aquatic snails, animals that are usually the natural reservoirs of the parasite and with the prohibition of bathing and water consumption in those areas where the snails live.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to What is Bilharzia – symptoms, causes and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Digestive System category .

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