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Schistosomiasis (otherwise known as Bilharzia or Snail Fever) is a devastating disease caused by free-swimming parasitic worms, which affects over 200 million people across 78 countries in Africa, Asia, and South America.
In areas where sanitation is poor and hygiene is a challenge, eggs from humans easily pass back into the water system. There they hatch, infect river snails, and use them as a host to develop further. When sufficiently developed, the larvae enter the water in search of a secondary host. Entering through the skin, humans are the perfect home for these parasites, and so the cycle of infection continues.
This disease, similar to other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), disproportionately impacts impoverished populations, especially affecting women and children who frequently use the rivers.
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