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David Dunne

, and Birgitte Vennervald

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date: 28 February 2021

Schistosomiasis is caused by trematode worms Schistosoma spp., whose life cycle requires a definitive vertebrate host and an intermediate freshwater snail host. Transmission to humans occurs through exposure to fresh water containing infectious larvae, which can penetrate intact skin before developing into blood-dwelling adult worms. The disease is patchily distributed in parts of South America, Africa, the Middle East, China, and Southeast Asia, with about 200 million people infected and 20 million suffering severe consequences of infection. Most infected people living in endemic areas have few (if any) overt symptoms, but clinical manifestations (when present) depend on the stage of infection. Praziquantel is the drug of choice, with corticosteroids added in cases of Katayama fever. Acute schistosomiasis responds well, but chronic disease less so, but rapid re-exposure and reinfection are common (particularly in young children) unless control measures are implemented at the community level.

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