An infection by any one of the species of Schistosomiasis is serious and requires diagnosis and treatment. The parasites can live for many years inside your body and cause liver, bladder and other vital organ damage.
What is Bilharzia?
Bilharzia is an infection by one of several different species of parasitic flatworm.
What are the symptoms?
Early symptoms can include itching where the parasites first entered your body. This can be followed by fever, malaise, passing blood in your urine, diarrhoea, joint and muscle pains. Most schistosome infections are asymptomatic.
How does the Bilharzia test work?
This urine test looks for a material (Circulating Cathodic Antigen) or CCA which is regurgitated by adult worms and which is excreted via your urine. All species of schistosomes excrete this antigen and a positive test result indicates a current active Bilharzia infection.
How do I get tested?
Book a simple instant resultsurine test now. Your results will be ready at your appointment
Did You Know?
The schistosome parasite has a complex life cycle. Eggs are excreted by the final host into water where the worms first infect fresh water snails. They reproduce asexually in the snails, then the young worms called Cercaria leave the snails and infect their final host by penetrating the skin and entering the blood stream. The young worms settle in various parts of the body including the digestive tract and the bladder where they mate and lay their eggs. The eggs are then excreted by the host, thus restarting the cycle.
What is Bilharzia?
Bilharzia, also called Schistosomiasis, is an illness caused by an infection with one of several species of flukes, or flatworms. The most common species are S. mansoni, S. japonicum and S. haemaobium. The disease is most frequently found in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as across southern China and South America. It is estimated that schistosomiasis affects up to 252 million people around the world causing up to 200,000 deaths each year.
Juvenile worms live in bodies of fresh water and will typically infect people by burrowing through their skin when swimming or bathing in the contaminated waters. The different species of worm cause different problems. The S.haematobium worms, after penetrating the skin, will enter the blood stream and settle in the veins around the bladder and urinary tract. This infection typically causes blood to be seen in the urine usually three to four months following first infection. This species of worm can also cause blockages in the urinary tract, kidney failure and appears to also correlate with higher rates of bladder cancers.
In the case of infection with either S. japonicum or S. mansoni, the worms will migrate and settle in the veins around the gastrointestinal tract. There, the worms will mate and lay their eggs which invade the walls of the gut leading to pain, diarrhoea, and blood in the stool. In severe cases of infection, the disease can lead to physical changes including narrowing of the colon and rectum.
What are the symptoms are a Bilharzia infection?
Larval forms of the schistosome can be found in fresh water. The adolescent worms penetrate the skin of bathers often causing an itching feeling at the point where they burrowed into the skin. This sensation, called “Swimmers itch” is often the first indication of infection.
Other symptoms can develop as the parasites mature inside the body, including fever and general feelings of illness. In some cases, the infected person can experience blood in their urine, blood in their stools, diarrhoea, joint aches and muscle pains.
Longer term symptoms can also include enlargement of the liver and spleen, scarring of the bladder, renal obstruction causing a difficulty in passing urine, and in some instances, chronic urinary tract infections.
Can I get Bilharzia if I have been immunised?
Currently there is no vaccine or immunisation against Bilharzia. The best way to prevent getting infected is to stay out of fresh water where Bilharzia is endemic.
What should I do if I think I have Bilharzia?
The only way to know if you have Bilharzia is to get tested. There are a number of different test available which look for the presence of eggs, antibodies or antigens to the schistosome. Ask your doctor or contact us to discuss your situation and any symptoms you might have.
How does a Bilharzia test work?
Better2Know Your Body’s Bilharzia test looks for a particular Antigen which is unique to the schistosome worms. This antigen is secreted by the adult worms once they are mature and reproducing inside your body. All species of the worm secrete this antigen so the test will detect an infection regardless of which type of worms you have.
How do I get tested?
To get tested please contact Better2Know your Body on the number above or click book now.