Intestinal Fluke Infection – Snail Fever or Japanese Schistosomiasis
Fluke infections are very common all through the Orient and in may other parts of the world, particularly in warm areas with a good rainfall. Snail fever is endemic in the Central Philippines.
The abdomen of an 11-year-old boy with intestinal schistosomiasis.
There are several different varieties, all of which find their way into the human system through infected food or water. They all live mainly within the digestive organs, passing their eggs in thousands every day. When the eggs reach a stream of water they soon hatch and enter some other creature, passing through part of a life cycle there.
Intestinal flukes usually penetrate the body of a snail, pass through an elaborate cycle within the snail, and then leave it and locate on certain water plants. When these plants are eaten, they serve as a source of human infection. Large numbers of intestinal flukes may be present on the outer layers of certain water nuts. When eaten raw or when the nuts are peeled with the teeth, the tiny flukes are swallowed, and within about three months they develop into adult worms. They attach themselves to the lining of the upper intestine and feed upon the particular digestive food material passing through the intestinal tract. At the same time, they cause erosion of the lining of the bowel, resulting in bleeding and pain, often followed by severe diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, alternating with periods of constipation.
Heavily infected patients may harbor several thousand worms at a time, and death may occur due to absorption of toxic materials produced by the parasites. The diagnosis is made by a study of the patient’s stools.
“Crystoids” anthelmintic or Hexylresorcinol are effective in treating intestinal flukes. A light liquid meal is taken the night before. Then on the morning of treatment, no food is given, and none should be taken for four hours after administration of the medicine. The dose for adults and children over twelve is ten pills swallowed with a glass of water. Children from eight to twelve should be given eight pills; those from six to eight years, six pills; and those under six years, one pill for each year of age.
Through cooking of all vegetables that have in any way been exposed to infection contamination will also help. In some cases it would be well to give a second course of treatment several weeks after the first.
image courtesy: [glogster.com and czmc.com]