What is Bilharzia?
Sometimes called Schistosomiasis, or snail fever, Bilharzia is a disease called by parasitic worms (schistosomes) entering the body. If the disease isn't treated there may be damage to internal organs, such as the liver, kidney, bladder, lungs, spinal cord, brain, and even the central nervous system.
What Are The Symptoms?
Bilharzia results in stomach pains, diarrhea, and there may be blood in the stools or urine.
Of those who do contract polio, only a small percentage will develop the paralytic disease.
How Is It Contracted?
The parasitic worms are carried by freshwater snails and the disease can be contracted by coming into contact with water in which snails are present. It is not necessary to consume the water because the worm larvae can penetrate the skin. Having entered someone's body, the larvae mature and then reproduce.
There is no human to human infection.
Who Is At Most Risk?
People who live, travel or work in areas where water has been contaminated by the presence of snails.
Where Are You At Risk?
Certain parts of sub-Saharan Africa seem to be the worst affected areas, followed by Brazil. In the part of the world where I live (Southeast Asia) it does exist, but I have never heard of anyone I know personally contracting Bilharzia in Thailand. However, I have read that it is more prevalent in Cambodia and Laos. It also affects the Middle East region in countries such as Yemen.
According to Wikipedia, "No effective vaccine for the disease exists yet." Bilharzia is regarded as a negelected tropical disease that only affects poor localities. Large pharmaceutical companies are not interested because there are no big profits to be made.
Other organisations which don't put as much emphasis on profit have carried out research and a vacine that redduces adult worm numbers and reduces egg production is ready for chemical trials.
If you visit a country where Bilharzia is known to be a problem do as much as you can to prevent an infection. Avoid swimming or wading in bodies of fresh water regardless of how attractive and inviting the water may appear to be. Chlorinated swimming pools and salt water seas and oceans aren't a problem.
Drink safe bottled water and use the same for washing food. Boil any drinking water for at least a minute if you have any doubts that it is from a safe source.
Source Of information
GlaxoSmithKline, Wikipedia, local doctors, local hospitals, newspaper articles, various.
Travel Related Diseases
Thailand is an incredibly photogenic country, both for its landscapes and its people. Regardless of whether you enjoy large Asian cities, beaches and islands, or rice fields and mountains, Thailand has something for you and it is a dream destination for photographers.
One of the great things about visiting Thailand is that hotels are plentiful and a lot cheaper than in most other countries. I always use Agoda to book hotels in Thailand. The company was established in Thailand and has great local knowledge, as well as a huge inventory of hotels.
If you click on one of the destinations opposite you will get a list of hotel deals from Agoda. It's generally a good idea to book on-line because you will get a good room rate and you won't suffer the disappointment of arriving at a hotel to find that it is full.
I book hotels regularly in Thailand and I have always found Agoda to be the best on-line travel agent. At times I have spent a lot of time researching hotel prices and although other deals sometimes look better at first I always end up returning to Agoda.
If you don't wish to pay for your hotel at the time of booking, Booking.com normally allows you to pay when you check in at the hotel. Some people prefer this method, but I have always found Booking.com to be more expensive than Agoda.
If you want to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined. However, you will normally find that Agoda is the cheapest and therefore you can save yourself time and money by just booking through Agoda in the first place.
Images of Thailand