We’ve covered malaria, deworming and dehydration. Yet, there is one more situation we have yet to discuss – worms of the water. Specifically, the type that comes with summertime activities such as fishing and swimming in the lake: Bilharzia. Now, fearmongering is not the intention here. However, the condition is serious and can have long term damage on your organs if left untreated for too long. The illness is still very common, as more than 100 million individuals were treated for the illness in 2017, as per World Health Organisation statistics.
You can catch the unfortunate disease medically known as Schistosomiasis, Bilharzia or ‘Snail Fever’, through skin contact or ingestion. Yes, this pest can actually pass through your skin and live in your blood. The parasitic worm is prevalent under freshwater snails. There is no vaccine for the condition yet, but it is completely curable.
Unfortunately, symptoms only appear a few weeks after infestation – between 14 and 84 days.
The symptoms of Bilharzia may include
- A rash
- Body aches
- Diarrhoea / constipation
- Blood in the faeces
- Intestinal ulcers
- Liver fibrosis
- Painful / red (bloody) urine
If you have any suspicion that you may have contracted Bilharzia, consult your doctor immediately. A simple urine or stool sample should help the doctor confirm the diagnosis. The condition can be treated with medication. It should eradicate the issue with no long-term side effects, if treated sooner rather than later. After your treatment, follow up with a three-month check up to ensure that the parasite is no more, and that possible side effects are taken into consideration. Our friendly Mopani team can assist with a long-term treatment plan under the instructions of your doctor, to ensure that you stay healthy and parasite-free!