Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia and snail fever is endemic in 12 regions and 28 provinces on the Philippines archipelago with a whopping 12 million Filipinos at risk for the parasitic infection, according to a Phil Star report.

Schistosoma japonicum/CDC
Schistosoma japonicum/CDC

With some 6.8 million people already exposed to the blood fluke, Dr. Vicente Belizario, convener of Neglected Tropical Diseases Study Group under the University of the Philippines-College of Public Health asks, “The Philippines has the most number of schistosomiasis globally, believe it or not. But why are we not talking about it?

“That’s because first, the problem is only prevalent in poor provinces and not national in scope; second, it’s a poor man’s disease and it doesn’t hit the headlines,” he said.

Schistosomiasis in the Philippines accounts for almost 80% of the burden in the western-Pacific Region.

What is schistosomiasis?

There are two major forms of schistosomiasis – intestinal and urogenital – caused by five species of blood fluke.

Intestinal schistosomiasis caused by Schistosoma japonicum is endemic in the Philippines.

In the Philippines, the highest prevalence is among children ages 5 to 15.

Read more of Dr Belizario’s discussion on schistosomiasis HERE