Author(s): Quack T, Beckmann S, Grevelding CG
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Abstract Parasitic helminths of the genus Schistosoma are the causative agents of schistosomiasis, an infectious disease affecting humans and animals. For humans, it is one of the most prevalent parasitemias in the world, second behind malaria. Estimates of the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that more than 200 million people live in endemic areas (WHO, Fact Sheet No 115). With respect to animals, a number of 530 million cattle is estimated to live in endemic territories of Africa and Asia. In the last two decades ambitious efforts have been made to develop an effective vaccine against schistosomes, but without resounding success. In addition, there is a pressing need to develop new anthelmintics due to the potential emerging resistance against the commonly used drug praziquantel. Therefore, the understanding of essential physiological or developmental processes of schistosome biology and attempts to intervene in these processes may open new ways to control the parasite. Towards this end, one possibility is to study the unusual biology of schistosomes. These digenean parasites differ from other parasitic flukes by living in the blood vessels. Furthermore, schistosomatids are the only bisexual family of the class trematoda. A nearly unique phenomenon in nature is that a continuous pairing-contact is essential for the development of the reproductive organs of the female, an aspect for the possible design of novel control strategies.
This article was published in Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr
and referenced in Malaria Control & Elimination