Preventing Schistosomiasis

Key points

  • There is no vaccine for schistosomiasis.
  • The most effective ways to prevent schistosomiasis are to not swim, wade, or bathe in unsafe water.
  • There are ways to control schistosomiasis, but they are difficult to effect.
boiling water

Prevention methods

There is no vaccine available to prevent schistosomiasis. There are steps you can take to lower your chances of getting it.

Do not get in freshwater

Do not swim, wade, or bathe in freshwater in regions where schistosomiasis is common. The ocean and chlorinated swimming pools are safe.

Keep Reading: WHO map of countries with schistosomiasis

Drink safe water

You will not get schistosomiasis from drinking unsafe water. However, if the parasites touch your mouth or lips through drinking the water, you might get infected.

Boil water from canals, lakes, rivers, streams, or springs for at least 1 minute before you drink it. You can also filter the water. Boiling water will kill harmful parasites, bacteria, or viruses. Iodine treatment alone does not guarantee safe water.

Prepare your bath water

You can take steps to make your bath water safe.

  • Boil your bath water until it is vigorously bubbling for at least a minute to remove anything harmful. Wait until the water cools down before getting in to prevent burning yourself.
  • Add 1 mg of chlorine for every 1 liter of water. Let the water sit for 30 minutes before bathing.
  • Water that has been in a storage tank for at least 1 to 2 days should be safe for bathing.

Dry yourself well

Dry yourself well with a towel after a short exposure to unsafe water. The drying may help prevent the Schistosoma parasite from getting into your skin. Do not rely on this method to prevent schistosomiasis.

Keep Reading: Schistosomiasis in Travelers

Controlling Schistosomiasis

Control efforts in countries where schistosomiasis is particularly dangerous focus on:

  • Reducing the number of people getting infected
  • Getting rid of the snails the parasites live in
  • Providing appropriate water and sanitation

Draining and removing sewage can reduce or stop the spread of schistosomiasis. Public health officials say that stopping schistosomiasis is possible in areas with less spread.

Mass treatment of whole communities and targeted treatment of school-age children is also used to control the spread.

However, these methods have some problems. Chemicals to remove the snails can harm other animals in the water. If water treatment is not continuous, the snails could return. In areas where schistosomiasis can also infect animals, water runoff from pastures with infected animals can make freshwater unsafe.