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. Each link on the right will take you to the relevant page on the Agoda website where you can see photos, read reviews, and book on-line. I use Agoda to book all of my own hotels in Thailand and the Southeast Asia region. Agoda hotel rates are usually always the lowest and I have received good customer service, therefore I am happy to recommend the company to other people. Here is some analysis I did regarding booking hotels in Southeast Asia.
Booking.com used to be more expensive than Agoda, but when I have checked hotel prices recently I have found their rates to be quite competitive. Unlike Agoda, you don't need to pay at the time of booking with Booking.com - you can simply pay at the hotel when you check in. Also, Booking.com show you total prices whereas Agoda show you a price and then add on 17% for tax and service charge.
If you wish to compare prices between different on-line travel agents (OTAs) for a specific hotel, you can use a company such as HotelsCombined.
Images of Thailand