Schistosomiasis also known as bilharziasis, is a chronic disease caused by past or present infection with parasitic blood flukes of any of five Schistosomaspecies: S. mansoni, S. japonicum, S. mekongi, S. intercalatum, or S. haematobium.
Schistosoma parasites can penetrate the skin of persons who are wading, swimming, bathing, or washing in contaminated water. Within days after becoming infected, you may develop a rash or itchy skin. Fever, chills, cough, and muscle aches can begin within 1-2 months of infection. Most people have no symptoms at this early phase of infection.
More than 207 million people, 85% of who live in Africa, are infected with schistosomiasis, and an estimated 700 million people are at risk of infection in 76 countries where the disease is considered endemic, as their agricultural work, domestic chores, and recreational activities expose them to infested water. Globally, 200,000 deaths are attributed to schistosomiasis annually.