Health Programs

Schistosomiasis Control Program

How is schistosomiasis treated?

Both forms of schistosomiasis can be controlled by the oral drug praziquantel. A single oral annual dose of this medicine will prevent a child from suffering from schistosomiasis.
Unfortunately, the diagnosis of intestinal schistosomiasis is difficult, requiring a stool examination and a microscope. The diagnosis of urinary schistosomiasis is easy and can be done on the spot with something known as the urine dipstick, a rapid diagnostic test. Within one minute in the field, the dipstick detects blood in the urine, the most common manifestation of urinary schistosomiasis. Currently, the focus of The Carter Center Schistosomiasis Control Program is on urinary schistosomiasis because communities can be so quickly assessed for the condition using dipsticks and testing children in schools.
The proportion of infected children in a village determines the treatment plan for that community. World Health Organization guidelines for community-wide treatment of urinary schistosomiasis with praziquantel are as follows:

  • When a village reports that more than 50 percent of children have blood in their urine, everyone in the village receives treatment.
  • When 20 to 50 percent of children have bloody urine, only the school-age children are treated.
  • When less than 20 percent of children have symptoms, mass treatment is not instituted.