I've been wanting to write for a while about how strongly I feel about being tested for the Schistosomiasis Parasite.
Even if you traveled way-back-when 70's, 80's, 90's, 2000's, and even if your visit was for a week and you had no side effects. I really feel the Schisto is very hard to detect and can lay dormant with virtually no signs or symptoms. Some Stories & Treatment is below.
A friend was on a Zambezi River trip with me around 1987, and she also did two Omo River in the 19 90's. Dec 2010 doctors found Schistosomiasis in a polyp after she had a colonoscopy.
Also: A woman river guide visited the Zambezi for 3 months in '95....ten year later, in 2005, she had cysts removed from her uterus, when the doctor glanced over at her appendices he saw hamburger and also removed her appendices and had it tested finding it full of Schisto!
Cysts in uterus has been found caused by the Schisto parasite--it also effects the liver, bladder, intestines, spine, brain...and who knows what else.
I've have two friends (two Great men) who've spent many many years in the African waters-Conrad Hirsch passed away from a brain tumor and Odd Nesje passed from bladder cancer. I've often wondered if Schistosomiasis was the cause of their passing.
If you know of someone who has spent time on the African waters please let them know about the Schisto parasite. Also I would be interested to learn if you've heard of anyone who has had the Schistosomiasis parasite.
Check these two sites out....TV program you may have seen on Animal Planet Called the Monsters Inside Me. It's crazy to think that Schisto can be anywhere in the body...I sure and hell hope it is gone out of mine!
More reading for those interested in the Schisto parasite and Treatment:
Schistosomiasis has been reported in U.S. river rafters in Africa.
Later symptoms are related to the number and location of parasite eggs in the body. Eggs travel to the liver or pass into the intestine or bladder, causing symptoms related to these organs. In rare cases, eggs can travel to the brain or spinal cord and cause seizures, paralysis, or spinal cord inflammation.
Ectopic egg deposition can lead to additional clinical syndromes including involvement of skin, lung, brain, muscle, adrenal glands, and eyes. Central nervous system involvement can result in transverse myelitis (best described for S haematobium and S mansoni) and/or cerebral disease (most common with S japonicum infection).
Eggs lodged in the spinal cord can cause transverse myelitis, and those in the CNS can cause seizures.
Single-day oral treatment with praziquantel (20 mg/kg bid for S. haematobium, S. mansoni, and S. intercalatum; 20 mg/kg tid for S. japonicum and S. mekongi) is recommended. However, treatment does not affect developing schistosomulae and thus may not abort an early infection. Adverse effects are generally mild and include abdominal pain, diarrhea, headache, and dizziness. Therapeutic failures have been reported, but it is difficult to determine whether they are due to reinfection or drug-resistant strains. Oxamniquine (not available in the US) is effective only against S. mansoni. African strains are more resistant to this drug than South American strains and require larger doses (30 mg/kg po once/day for 1 or 2 days vs 15 mg/kg once). Oxamniquine-resistant cases have been observed.
Patients should be examined for living eggs 3 and 6 mo after treatment. Retreatment is indicated if egg excretion has not decreased markedly. In the future, antigen detection tests may supplant quantitative egg counts as tools to monitor response to chemotherapy.
Rarely, the central nervous system can be involved, producing seizures or transverse myelitis as a result of mass lesions of the brain or spinal cord.
South America = Hepatic & Intestinal
Africa = Urinary
All reported patients with spinal cord schistosomiasis potentially have been exposed to infestation. Worldwide, S mansoni is the most frequent cause of Schistosomal myelopathy
Praziquantel - effective in the treatment of all forms of schistosomiasis, with virtually no side effects, Oxamniquine - used exclusively to treat intestinal schistosomiasis in Africa and South America, Metrifonate - effective for the treatment of urinary schistosomiasis
The disease is treatable, usually with the drug praziquantel taken for 1-2 days.
Praziquantel works by causing severe spasms and paralysis of the worms' muscles. This paralysis is accompanied - and probably caused - by a rapid Ca 2+ influx inside the schistosome. Morphological alterations are another early effect of praziquantel. These morphological alterations are accompanied by an increased exposure of schistosome antigens at the parasite surface. The worms are then either completely destroyed in the intestine or passed in the stool.
An interesting quirk of praziquantel is that it is relatively ineffective against juvenile schistosomes.
While initially effective, effectiveness against schistosomes decreases until it reaches a minimum at 3-4 weeks. Effectiveness then increases again until it is once again fully effective at 6-7 weeks.
[this last paragraph is a little confusing to me....but it sounds like it could kill the juvenile, they use the word relatively ineffective. The next two sentences are confusing, I don't understand it....could you explain it to me?]kelley k
What drug(s) may interact with Praziquantel?
•albendazole •barbiturates, such as phenobarbital •certain antiepileptic medications, such carbamazepine, phenytoin, fosphenytoin, oxcarbazepine •chloroquine •cimetidine •dexamethasone •grapefruit juice •rifampin •St. John's Wort, Hypericum perforatum
What side effects may I notice from receiving Praziquantel?
Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible: “fibrotic lesions around eggs could be lodged in these tissues “
•difficulty breathing •skin rash, hives, or itching Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome): •diarrhea •dizziness •drowsiness •fever •headache •increased sweating •loss of appetite •nausea or vomiting •stomach cramps
praziquantel: effective in a single dose against all species
oxamniquine: effective in a single dose, but only against S. mansoni