This ancient disease, said to have caused the calcified bladders sometimes seen in Egyptian mummies, has been identified in freshwater of the Cavu river, in which these 11 individuals swam.
The haematobium species of Schistosomiasis, which targets the blood supply surrounding the bladder, can enter the body via the soles of the feet, as swimmers stand in the shallow waters whilst they bathe. Although symptoms are usually mild, diagnosis often occurring after blood is found in the urine, world-wide up to 150,000 fatalities can occur which result from the 90 million people who are currently infected with the flatworm.
The medication praziquantel usually provides an effective treatment and in endemic areas regular community-wide drug programmes are sometimes advocated.
Written by Dr Simon Worrell BSc MBBS MRCP, Head of Medical Communications, Healix International.
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