Schistosomiasis in Africa Name Course Instructor Date Introduction One of the factors that have been a constant concern within the society is the presence of disease and its effect on various parts of the world…
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al 2013). One part of the world that has been seriously affected by various types of diseases can be said to be Africa and one common disease that is found in the tropical segments of this continent is Schistosomiasis. What is Schistosomiasis? Schistosomiasis is more popularly known as bilharzia or snail fever and refers to several parasitic ailments (The Carter Center, 2013). The name is derived from the fact that the parasitic diseases can be caused by a number of trematodes species that belong to a genus known as Schistosoma (Thetiot-Laurent et. al 2013). It is also called snail fever because snails happen to act as intermediaries between hosts (that is, hosts that are categorized under mammals.). The snails can be said to carry the disease and affect those who may come into contact with them or their surrounding environment such as small water bodies (Crichton-Harris, 2009). The infected snails contaminate the water that they are in and when this water is used by an individual, they open themselves up to the possibility of getting infected. Its contraction through contaminated water is one of the reasons that this disease is a problem in Africa as many individuals from rural regions do not have access to sanitized water and therefore are at a greater risk of being infected due to their environment. Non-sanitized water is a big problem in many parts of Africa and thus diseases such as bilharzia have a greater transmission rate as compared to other regions in the world (James et. al 2006). In most cases schistosomiasis is a chronic illness that can have a serious effect on those who contract it. The disease has the capability to damage the internal organs of an individual if the disease is not treated quickly. Schistosomiasis can also have serious consequences for children as they face the risk of cognitive development impairment and growth can sometimes be affected as well (James et. al 2006). Some forms of schistosomiasis such as urinary schistosomiasis increase the risks for an individual with regard to other diseases such as bladder cancer (Strickland, 2006). Signs and Symptoms There are a number of symptoms that one can look for to identify whether an individual has been infected with the parasitic disease. Some of the symptoms that an individual may suffer from include physical aspects such as suffering from diarrhea, fever and a cough. The individual may also experience abdominal pains as well as fatigue when they have not been very active (Botros et. al 2005). During the initial stages of the infection, the individual may suffer from mild itching where the body came into contact with the contaminated water. These symptoms can be confused for something else or even overlooked all together thus it is essential that individuals living in areas where they are under risk of infection be vigilant in ensuring that they are able to detect the disease during its early stages. As the disease progresses there are a number of symptoms that enter into the fray of action but will require medical tests to be identified. These symptoms include an increase in the individual’s white blood cells in the body (Thetiot-Laurent et. al 2013). Organs such as the liver and the spleen may also turn out enlarged as the disease progresses. Urinary schistosomiasis may also result in the development of sores in the genital area. This is one of the more serious symptoms as the lesions that are developed in that area
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