Assessment of morbidity due to Schistosoma japonicum infection in China

Infect Dis Poverty. 2014 Feb 14;3(1):6. doi: 10.1186/2049-9957-3-6.


This paper presents a historical assessment of morbidity due to the Schistosoma japonicum infection in China. Due to the socio-economic situation, which did not allow for a control program to be implemented until the early 1950s, morbidity was serious and mortality was high before this. Based on a few investigations and published papers, it can be said that the disease caused millions of deaths, and destroyed numerous families and villages. Since the 1950s, there has been a national control program, intensive control and prevention work has been carried out, and consequently the disease is being controlled. At present, both the prevalence and the morbidity of the disease have been decreasing substantially. The morbidity of the three phases of the disease is outlined in this paper. Comparatively higher morbidity is seen in the acute and advanced phases of the disease. The four major forms of advanced schistosomiasis i.e., ascites, megalosplenia, dwarfism, and colonic tumoroid proliferation, are outlined with their characteristic clinical presentations; their proportions are different during various periods of the national control program. Ectopic schistosomiasis and the relationship between the S. japonicum infection and colorectal cancer are also discussed. Post-transmission schistosomiasis is briefly discussed (which can happen even if the disease reaches the criteria of elimination, and the infection and transmission have stopped, but yet it still develops). The problem of mammalian reservoir hosts of S. japonicum makes the epidemiology and control of schistosomiasis in China even more complicated and arduous, and the control progress in animal reservoirs is briefly presented.