• Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

What is the treatment for schistosomiasis?

Currently, the drug used in most people is praziquantel (Biltricide); however, it only is effective against adult worms and does not affect eggs or immature worms. Treatment with this drug is simple and its dose is based on the patient's weight with two doses given on one day. However, the drug causes rapid disintegration of the worm which, in turn, allows the human immune system to attack the parasite. This immune response can cause localized reactions, which may increase the patient's symptoms. Corticosteroids are often used to reduce the symptoms of this reaction. Unfortunately, this response limits the use of praziquantel. Praziquantel and oxaminquine or artemether are used by some clinicians early in infections, or to treat individuals infected with both malaria and schistosomes, respectively.

Ocular schistosomiasis should not be treated with this praziquantel. Other organs with heavy parasite infections may not function well and require supportive care until the hyperimmune response abates after drug administration. Other drugs (oxamniquine, metrifonate, artemisinins, and trioxolanes) have been used in some patients but have limited effectiveness. New drugs are in development.

Surgical care may include removal of tumor masses, ligation of esophageal varices, shunt surgeries, and granuloma removal.

When should people with schistosomiasis seek medical care?

People associated with freshwater sources in areas where Schistosoma spp. are endemic should seek medical care if they develop symptoms of acute schistosomiasis (see above, especially for abdominal pain, blood in stools or urine, and fever). Those with diagnosed chronic schistosomiasis should seek medical care if their chronic symptoms increase (especially abdominal pain, shortness of breath, bloody diarrhea or bloody urine, seizures, or mental-status changes). Anyone with undiagnosed schistosomiasis who develops symptoms listed above should seek medical care and inform the caregivers that they have been exposed to freshwater sources in areas where the disease is endemic either as residents of the areas or as a tourist.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/23/2015

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