What is the life cycle of Schistosoma species?

Updated: Jun 11, 2020
  • Author: Shadab Hussain Ahmed, MD, AAHIVS, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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The geographic distribution and etiology of schistosomiasis reflect the unique life cycle of Schistosoma species. Schistosomes infect susceptible freshwater snails in endemic areas, usually with specific species of schistosomes infecting specific species of snails. The infected snails release cercariae 4-6 weeks after infection. The cercariae are fork-tailed, free-swimming larvae approximately 1mm in length. They can survive in fresh water up to 72 hours, during which time they must attach to human skin or to that of another susceptible host mammal or die.

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