What is the prevalence of schistosomiasis (bilharzia) in the US?

Updated: Sep 20, 2018
  • Author: Shadab Hussain Ahmed, MD, AAHIVS, FACP, FIDSA; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Acute and chronic schistosomiasis infections are not common in the United States. Although it is estimated that 400,000 infected persons have immigrated to this country, neither susceptible snail species nor chronically infected human reservoirs sufficient to infest fresh water exist. However, pathogenic schistosomes can survive and replicate in human hosts for years and even decades. Therefore, persons who have traveled or immigrated may present to EDs with active cases of acute or chronic schistosomiasis and/or associated end-organ complications. Most infected patients remain asymptomatic. Acute symptoms are more common in nonimmune travelers. This is because of a severe immune response following exposure.


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