Schistosomiasis risk is present in the whole country, including urban areas:
S. haematobium and S. mansoni are endemic throughout the country, including Lake Malawi.
Risk of Schistosomiasis caused by: Schistosoma haematobium, Schistosoma mansoni
The main intermediate host snail is: Bulinus globosus, Biomphalaria pfeifferi
Schistosomiasis, also known as Bilharzia, is caused by Schistosoma trematode flatworms. It is transmitted by snails living in fresh water such as lakes, rivers, streams and ponds. This preventable disease affects approximately 243 million people worldwide. The following flatworms – S. haematobium, S. mansoni, S. guineensis, S. intercalatum, S. mekongi, S. japonicum as well as S. mattheei and S. malayensis are responsible for Schistosomiasis in humans causing damage either to the urinary tract, bladder, kidneys, liver, or gastro-intestinal system. Schistosomiasis is a Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD)*. Many countries affected by the disease have active health education and eradication programs focusing on improved sanitation and snail control.
* Neglected Tropical Diseases are chronic infections that are typically endemic in low income countries. They prevent affected adults and children from going to school, working, or fully participating in community life, contributing to stigma and the cycle of poverty.
Travellers swimming in fresh water in Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and some Caribbean islands are at greater risk.
Initial symptoms usually appear within days or weeks after being infected and include a skin rash, fever, headache, muscle ache, bloody diarrhea, cough, malaise, and abdominal pain. If untreated, Schistosomiasis can become a chronic illness as the flatworm eggs damage the lining of abdominal organs, female genital organs, the heart, lungs, and rarely the brain. Chronic Schistosomiasis can cause irreversible damage, including cancer. Treatment includes taking the anthelminthic drug Praziquantel.
The primary way to prevent Schistosomiasis is to avoid swimming in fresh water and eating raw foods which have not been washed with purified water. Additional prevention advice includes: