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Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is a parasitic infection caused by a helminth (or worm) of the genus Schistosoma. This worm is acquired by swimming in contaminated fresh water.
There are two types of schistosomiasis, based on the type of effect it has on the body: urogenital schistosomiasis, caused by Schistosoma haematobium, and digestive schistosomiasis, caused by other species (S. guineensis, S. intercalatum, S. mansoni, S. japonicum and S. mekongi).
According to data from the WHO, schistosomiasis affects more than 230 million people of all ages across the world. It is estimated that 85% of the world’s cases of schistosomiasis occur in Africa.
Schistosomiasis is common in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, Asia and South America, especially in poor communities lacking access to drinking water or proper sanitation.
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