Distribution pattern of the snail intermediate host of schistosomiasis japonica in the Poyang Lake region of China

Fei Hu, Jun Ge, Shang Biao Lv, Yi Feng Li, Zhao Jun Li, Min Yuan, Zhe Chen, Yue Ming Liu, Yue Sheng Li, Allen G. Ross, Dan Dan Lin

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    With the closure of the Three Gorges Dam in 2003 the hydrology of Poyang Lake was altered dramatically leading to significant changes in the environment. In order to assess the impact on schistosomiasis this study assessed the spatial and temporal patterns of the snail intermediate host, Oncomelania hupensis in the Poyang Lake tributaries. The results of the study have important implications for future snail control strategies leading to disease elimination.


    The marshland area surrounding Poyang Lake was divided randomly into 200 × 200 m vector grids using ArcGIS software, and the surveyed grids were randomly selected by the software. The snail survey was conducted in each selected grid using a survey frame of 50 × 50 m with one sideline of each grid serving as the starting line. No less than ten frames were used in each surveyed grid with Global Positioning System (GPS) recordings for each. All snails in each frame were collected to determine infection status by microscopy. Altitude data for all frames were extracted from a lake bottom topographic map in order to analyze the average altitude. All snail survey data were collected and statistically analyzed with SPSS 20.0 software in order to determine the difference of the percentage of frames with living snails and mean density of living snails in different regions of Poyang Lake. The altitude of the snail-infested marshlands and snail dens were subsequently identified.


    A total of 1159 potential snail sampling grids were surveyed, of which 15 231 frames (0.1 m2/frame) were investigated. 1241 frames had live Oncomelania snails corresponding to 8.15% of the total number of frames. The mean density of living snails was 0.463/0.1 m2 with a maximum of 57 snails per frame. The percent of frames with snails in the southern sector (8.13%) of Poyang Lake did not differ statistically from the north (8.21%). However, the mean density of live snails in the northern sector (0.164/0.1 m2) of the lake was statistically higher (F = 6.727; P = 0.010) than the south (0.141/0.1 m2). In the south of the lake, the elevation of snail-inhabited marshland ranged between 11 - 16 m, and could be further subdivided into two snail-concentrated belts at 12–13 m of elevation and 15–16 m of elevation respectively. In the north of the lake, the elevation of snail-inhabited marshland ranged between 9− 16 m with the elevation of 12–14 m being the snail-concentrated zone.


    The elevation of snail-infested marshlands in the Poyang Lake region ranged from 9 to 16 m. The snail distribution and habitat has moved north of the lake and to a lower altitude due to changes in the water level post dam closure. Based on the current geological features of the snail habitant focused mollusciciding should occur in snail dense northern regions with frequent bovine and human traffic. Targeting these identified ‘hotspots’ of transmission will assist in elimination efforts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number23
    Number of pages9
    JournalInfectious Diseases of Poverty
    Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2019


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