Genital Schistosomiasis or Urogenital Schistosomiasis or Bilharziasis refers to a parasitic infection of the genitals which affects men and women, resulting in chronic illness.
Causes for Genital Schistosomiasis
Genital schistosomiasis is caused by one of five species of flatworms namely; Schistosoma haematobium and is transmitted through contaminated water. It is the eggs shed by the worm which causes this disease. These eggs embolize to the uterus, cervix, and lower genital tract of girls and women leading to the formation of fibrotic nodules known as “sandy patches”. This further results in female genital schistosomiasis (FGS). According to estimates, approximately 9 to 13 million women are affected by urogenital schistosomiasis, especially in 53 countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the eastern Mediterranean. The disease could be controlled using anti-parasitics and by providing education and hygiene. FGS may act a vital risk factor in the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including human immunodeficiency virus and may even result in social stigma, depression and infertility secondary to ovarian fibrosis or tubal occlusion.
Genital Schistosomiasis Symptoms
- Irregular bleeding
- Abnormal vaginal discharge
- Pelvic pain or tenderness
- Unexplained infertility
As the first step in diagnosis, the medical history of the patient is cautiously evaluated. This is followed by physical examination, after taking into consideration the travel history of the patient or her residence in endemic areas. Schistosome eggs are then directly visualized in urine through filtration and staining. Microscopic examination is further done on biopsies of the cervix or histologic sections of tissue. After identifying the characteristic eggs by cytologic or histologic methods, suitable treatment is recommended.
Prevention of FGS ( female genital schistosomiasis)
A low-cost antiparasitic drug, is administered for the prevention of FGS. It also acts as a low-cost AIDS prevention method if it is administered annually to girls and women right from their school years.