Friday, 10 January 2014

Imported schistosomiasis a risk as China develops closer links with Africa

Experts in parasitic disease say imported schistosomiasis is an increasing problem for China as more Chinese travel to Africa
Dr Lu Ping and colleagues from the Key Laboratory of Technology on Parasitic Disease in
Wuxi say that the chronic, debilitating parasitic disease caused by trematode blood flukes is a major public health threat for China. Writing in the Journal of Travel Medicine, they say that at present, only S. japonicum is endemic in China. However, more and more imported cases infected with African schistosomes (including S. mansoni and S. hematobium) are reported owing to the sharp growth in China-aided projects in Africa and labor services exported to Africa. Since 1979, a total of 147 cases infected with S. mansoni and 283 cases infected with S. hematobium have been reported until now, including the two S. hematobium-infected workers returning from Tanzania and Angola They note that there are now over a million Chinese workers now residing in Africa, who have a high risk of exposure to African schistosomiasis, and many infected individuals are asymptomatic and seldom seek care and have a high rate of missed diagnosis and misdiagnosis due to the lack of knowledge on African schistosomiasis;
"Therefore, it is considered that the actual number of the Chinese infected with African schistosomes may be greatly underestimated.
And once the infected cases, as sources of infection of schistosomiasis, are imported to regions where the snail intermediate hosts of African schistosome are present, there is a high likelihood of transmission of African schistosomiasis in China, they say.
A systematic surveillance and evaluation program for schistosome infections in returners from African countries is urgently required under the organization of health sections, entry-exit inspection and quarantine sections, and commerce sections, they suggest.

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