Prevention and control of schistosomiasis
You will meet these prevention and control categories again when we discuss the other vector-borne diseases later in this study session.
Several prevention and control strategies should be integrated to reduce the burden of schistosomiasis. You have an important role as a Health Extension Practitioner to teach community members in affected areas how to apply the major prevention and control measures, which can be described in five general categories:
- Integrated vector control (IVC) measures, aimed at reducing the number of vectors; in areas affected by schistosomiasis, these measures involve using the chemical 'Endod' to kill the snails, and environmental management to destroy snail habitats by improving irrigation and farming practices; this could involve removing vegetation and draining and filling swampy areas or shallow pools wherever possible.
- Parasite control measures, aimed at reducing the number of parasites, e.g. treating water for washing with chlorine or iodine to kill the eggs and immature Schistosoma organisms.
- Personal protection against exposure to the parasites, e.g. farmers, fishermen and others who have to stand in infected water should wear rubber boots to protect their skin from penetration by the swimming forms of the Schistosoma parasites.
- Rapid case detection and referral to the nearest health centre for effective treatment; the drug used to treat schistosomiasis is called praziquantel, which is administered orally at a dosage of 40–60 mg per kg of body weight, given in two or three doses over a single day. You are not expected to prescribe praziquantel, which must be given at the health centre.
- Education in the community about the causes and modes of transmission of schistosomiasis.
What actions would you educate community members to take to protect themselves and their children from schistosomiasis?
In particular, you should encourage people to build and use latrines and avoid urinating or defaecating in water, in order to reduce contamination by Schistosoma eggs. Also they should wear protective clothing when standing in infected water, and seek early diagnosis and treatment for any suspected cases.