Bilharzia / Schistosomiasis
is caused by a fluke, released from fresh water snails in Africa and South
America (and less so in the Middle and Far East). Infected humans contaminate
the water by their urine or stools. Snails usually live on weed and stones
near the surface of water - but not exclusively. Currents can also spread
the flukes to areas well away from the contaminated water.
occurs when an individual's skin comes into contact with infected water,
for example, during activities such as swimming, washing or paddling.
is often asymptomatic but itching can occur at the site of entry. Two to
four weeks later fever, diarrhoea, cough or a rash may develop. Long standing
disease can lead to problems with the bladder, kidneys, bowel or liver.
can treat the infection, but travellers are advised to take precautions
to prevent infection, rather than rely on treatment, because of the potential
long-term effects of the disease.
Avoid skin contact
with fresh water in endemic areas, e.g. ponds, lakes and river;
Swim only in protected
swimming pools or safe sea water;
source: Scottish NHS