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article imageSnail fever set to decline in Africa

By Tim Sandle     Dec 17, 2013 in Health
The parasite Schistosoma mansoni, which causes snail fever in humans , is predicted to become significantly less common according to a new research study. This is partly linked to climate change.
Schistosomiasis is an infectious disease caused by parasitic flatworms of the genus Schistosoma. The worms infect humans by penetrating the skin when in contact with water. They spread in freshwater areas such as rivers and lakes where fresh water snails act as intermediate host for the parasite's larvae.
Schistosoma mansoni infects about 83 million people worldwide, causing the disease intestinal schistosomiasis (schistosomiasis caused by all the Schistosoma species infects over 200 million people.) Currently there are two drugs available, praziquantel and oxamniquine, for the treatment of schistosomiasis.
The reason for the expected decline in the infection is that the parasite's host snails stand to lose suitable habitat due to climate change. According to models, several areas will become too hot for the snails in the future and new precipitation patterns will affect the freshwater areas where they live. This, in one way, could be a positive outcome of the warming of the Earth's surface temperature.
The research was undertaken at the University of Copenhagen. The research results have been published in the journal Acta Tropica. The paper is titled “Large-scale determinants of intestinal schistosomiasis and intermediate host snail distribution across Africa: does climate matter?”
More about snail fever, Africa, Schistosomiasis
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