Bilharzia is caused by a parasitic worm. Although it predominantly harms the intestines and urinary tract, other bodily systems may also be affected because it dwells in blood vessels.

According to the World Health Organization, bilharzia can be both acute and chronic in nature. The body reacts to the parasite’s existence by exhibiting symptoms, although problems might last for a long time.

Moreover, the condition can influence the brain, lungs, and neurological system, among other body systems. Depending on the parasite species, the damage will vary in scope.


Depending on the worm variety and infection phase, an infection will have a different effect.

When the body responds to the worm’s eggs, the following symptoms may appear:

Acute Phase

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Body pain
  • Headache
  • Breathing problems

Chronic Phase

Many patients do not initially exhibit any symptoms, but as the disease worsens, they may start to exhibit symptoms. The type of parasite is again a factor in these later signs.

Symptoms of parasites in the intestines or liver include:

  • Intestinal ulcers
  • Blood in the stool
  • Constipation and diarrhea
  • Liver fibrosis

Anemia can evolve over time. The parasite may, in rare instances, have an impact on the central nervous system.


A person must see a healthcare provider if they are experiencing signs or believe they may have come into touch with contaminated water. An expert in tropical medicine or infectious diseases may be recommended by the doctor.

They should be prepared to inform the doctor that:

  • what places they have been to;
  • how long they stayed;
  • whether they had water that was tainted in some way;
  • any signs, and when they first emerged; and
  • whether they experienced a rash that itched or had blood in their pee.

The presence of eggs might be detected in a stool or urine sample. A blood test may be required by the doctor.


Bilharzia has no vaccination; however, treatment can lessen the effects of the infection. As long as there hasn’t been any serious harm or difficulties, a brief course of the drug praziquantel is typically helpful if a person’s test is positive. Even at a mature phase, praziquantel can be helpful, but it cannot stop re-infection.

A vaccine that will prevent the parasite’s lifecycle from progressing in humans is being developed by researchers.

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