Tackling schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis affects 200 million people worldwide. About 85% of cases are in sub-Saharan Africa and this is where the Museum’s schistosomiasis research is focused.

Our scientists are involved in researching the ways schistosomiasis is transmitted and treatment programmes to help those in affected regions.

The Museum is proud of its role as a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for the identification and characterisation of schistosomes and the snails that carry them.

As well as drug treatment with praziquantel, it is important to break the cycle of re-infection. To do this we must look closely at the role that environment and host-parasite interactions play in disease transmission.

The Museum is a key partner in a range of treatment and prevention programmes:

  • Drug treatment in Zanzibar
    A partnership between the Museum and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in Zanzibar has made excellent progress in reducing both schistosomiasis and intestinal worms in school-aged children.


  • CONTRAST programme
    The Museum is a leading partner in Control of Schistosomiasis Transmission, CONTRAST, which is looking at genetic diversity within schistosomes and snails to identify better control methods, and promoting skills exchange and collaboration. There are 14 partners representing Europe, West, Central and East Africa.


  • Schistosomiasis in young children
    In some shoreline villages around the African Great Lakes more than 60% of children may be infected with schistosomiasis. A new Wellcome Trust-funded project aims to clarify the natural history of intestinal schistosomiasis in infants and pre-school children, and help formulate disease control strategies.