School-age children are the most heavily affected, where the disease is responsible for widespread malnutrition, absenteeism and impaired cognitive development. Children suffering from persistent and heavy schistosomiasis infections are likely to have chronic, irreversible diseases later in life, such as liver fibrosis, cancer of the bladder or kidney failure.
Schistosomiasis is a disease that is transmitted through water-borne parasitic worms. The parasite is transmitted to humans by penetration of the skin in fresh water. The majority of suffering and deaths associated with schistosomiasis is the result of slow damage to the host organs caused by accumulation of, and host reaction to, parasite eggs in the tissues over many years.
Strategy for Elimination / Eradication / Control
The WHO strategy for schistosomiasis control focuses on reducing disease through periodic, targeted treatment with praziquantel. This involves regular treatment of all people of at-risk groups. In a few countries where transmission is low, the elimination of the disease should targeted. Praziquantel is the recommended treatment against all forms of schistosomiasis. It is effective, safe and low-cost. Even though re-infection may occur after treatment, the risk of developing severe disease is diminished and even reversed when treatment is initiated and repeated in childhood.
Control for schistosomiasis is defined as regional elimination in the Eastern Mediterranean, Caribbean, Indonesia and the Mekong River basin by 2015; and elimination in the Americas, Western Pacific and selected countries in Africa by 2020.