African infertility caused by parasites


Researchers from all over the world gathered in Copenhagen to discuss a Danish study from LIFE – Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen which discusses the damage done by a parasitic disease called schistosomiasis, or snail fever. The disease starts a cycle of infection and is hurting millions of women all over Africa in addition to increasing incidences in Europe.

Schistosomiasis is contracted as women enter local rivers and lakes to wash laundry or bath. The parasite is in the water.

Up to now, it has been known that the parasite causes damage in men’s and women’s internal organs if allowed to flourish. The new study reveals that the parasite also inflicts damage to women’s reproductive organs making them susceptible to infection and infertile.

“We know that 200 million people are already infected with the parasite. What we didn’t know before now was that over the years the parasite causes sores in the women’s reproductive organs, which makes it easier for infections such as HIV to take hold,” said Dr. Niels Ornbjerg from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology.

The parasite lays eggs on the organs which cause an infection. The infection leads to perforations. At this point, nothing can be done to repair the damage and the woman is likely infertile. The cycle of infection occurs every time women are exposed to the parasite which can be countless.

With early intervention, the damage can be stopped. “…We will look at the possibilities of starting specific treatment and prevention programs for young girls in the areas affected by the parasite,” explains Dr. Ornbjerg.

Cases have also been diagnosed in Denmark where women have returned from African travel infected by the parasite.

Source: University of Copehagen, MedicalNewsToday


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