How is schistosomiasis diagnosed?
Diagnosis is initially based on the history and physical examination of the patient. It is important to enquire if a person has inhabited or visited areas of the world where the disease is endemic, especially if the person has had skin exposure to freshwater lakes and streams. If the patient has that history and has symptoms that are described above, a presumptive diagnosis may be made.
However, because symptoms of schistosomiasis resemble those of serum sickness and other diseases, definitive diagnostic tests are usually required.
Many other tests and procedures may be necessary to establish the diagnosis, especially if no eggs are found in the feces or urine, which is often the situation in chronic schistosomiasis. These may include colonoscopy, cystoscopy, endoscopy, and liver biopsy. Some other test ultrasound, chest X-rays, CT, MRI, and echocardiograms help evaluate complications.
What is the treatment for schistosomiasis?
Treatment is based on the presentation. Early antiparasitic treatment, especially with acute schistosomiasis, may allow people to recover completely without developing chronic disease. A few people recover completely from the initial exposure to the disease.
It is important though that people associated with freshwater sources in areas where Schistosoma spp. are endemic should seek medical care if they develop symptoms of schistosomiasis
Can schistosomiasis be prevented?
Theoretically, the disease can be prevented by avoiding all human skin contact with freshwater sources where schistosomiasis and the snails that complete their life cycle are endemic.
Dr Adenike Ojumu – Health Editor