What is the pathogenesis of chronic schistosomiasis (bilharzia)?

Updated: Jun 11, 2020
  • Author: Shadab Hussain Ahmed, MD, AAHIVS, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The pathology of chronic schistosomiasis, which is far more common than the acute form of the infection, results from egg-induced immune response, granuloma formation, and associated fibrotic changes. Although cercarial and adult worms are minimally immunogenic, schistosomal eggs are highly immunogenic and induce vigorous circulating and local immune responses. (Eggs may require an intense immune response to aid their migration through the body.) Adult worms can absorb host proteins. If not attacked by the immune system, they can live for years in the blood stream as they are coated with host antigens.

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