Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis (bilharzia), known also by many local names such as "red-water fever," "snail fever," "big-belly," and "Katayama disease," is an "immunologic disease" induced by eggs of blood-vessel-inhabiting worms of the class Trematoda, genus Schistosoma. These eggs induce an immunologic response after they become trapped in the body organs, especially the liver, gut wall, and urogenital tract.

There are three major human schistosome species: Schistosoma haematobium, which inhabit the veins of the bladder area and whose eggs are discharged in the urine; and Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosoma japonicum, which inhabit the mesenteric veins supplying the intestines and whose eggs are discharged in the feces. In every case, however, the worms may also be found in the liver and portal system. There are also a few other species that can parasitize humans. These include the japonicum-like Schistosoma mekongi from the lower Mekong River basin, and some African schistosomes, such as Schistosoma intercalatum, that normally parasitize cattle and wild animals.

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