These schistosomiasis causing parasites are not found in the U.S. Instead, this infection mostly occurs throughout the tropics and subtropics. Most prevalent in sub-Saharan Africa.
The cause for schistosomiasis is schistosoma worms, that gain entry into the body through your skin. If a schistosoma penetrates your skin, the worm grow inside the blood vessels and produce eggs.
The worms invasion of your skin may cause itching and a rash, referred to as swimmer’s itch. Other symptoms, known as Katayama fever, may be experienced after this parasite’s ingress and infestation spreads, including:
- weight loss
- loss of appetite
- bloody diarrhea
- frequent urination
- swollen liver, spleen
- lymph node swelling
- abdominal discomfort
- muscle aches/joint pain
Many with chronic schistosomiasis do not recall experiencing these initial fever and itch symptoms of infection. Any symptoms of schistosomiasis are caused by the body’s reaction to the schistosoma eggs and not the worms.
Repeated or chronic schistosoma infection can result in other complications, such as:
- heart failure
- liver disease
- pulmonary hypertension
- bladder cancer/inflammation
Treatment of schistosomiaisis before significant damage materializes usually has a positive outcome. Praziquantel is an oral drug treatment for all 5 species of schistosoma. Corticosterioids may also be used to treat an acute schistosoma infection.
If you have any reason to believe you have schistosomiasis, swimmers itch or Katayama fever symptoms, contact an infectious disease, tropical medicine specialist or your health care provider immediately.
Schistosomiasis has various nicknames, like swimmers itch, Katayama fever, bilharzia, bilharziosis and snail fever.