What is the global prevalence of active schistosomiasis (bilharzia) infection?

Updated: Jun 11, 2020
  • Author: Shadab Hussain Ahmed, MD, AAHIVS, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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More than 207 million people in at least 74 countries have active schistosomal infection. [26] Of this population, approximately 60% have disease symptoms, including organ-specific complaints and problems related to chronic anemia and malnutrition from the infection; more than 20 million are severely ill. Disease prevalence is heterogeneous in vulnerable locales and tends to be worse in areas with poor sanitation, increased freshwater irrigation usage, and heavy schistosomal infestation of human, animal, and/or snail populations.

However, targeted interventions combining snail control, improved water supply quality, and treatment of infected persons, particularly children, have shown success in diverse endemic areas, including China, Brazil, Egypt, and some areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Interventions based on treating infections annually in humans and domesticated animals while controlling snail populations have decreased disease burden in some areas by an order of magnitude in the last 50 years, but these efforts have plateaued.

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