Schistosomiasis in the People's Republic of China: The era of the three Gorges Dam

Donald P. McManus, Darren J. Gray, Yuesheng Li, Zheng Feng, Gail M. Williams, Donald Stewart, Jose Rey-Ladino, Allen G. Ross

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    189 Citations (Scopus)


    The potential impact of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) on schistosomiasis transmission in China has invoked considerable global concern. The TGD will result in changes in the water level and silt deposition downstream, favoring the reproduction of Oncomelania snails. Combined with blockages of the Yangtze River's tributaries, these changes will increase the schistosomiasis transmission season within the marshlands along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The changing schistosome transmission dynamics necessitate a comprehensive strategy to control schistosomiasis. This review discusses aspects of the epidemiology and transmission of Schistosoma japonicum in China and considers the pathology, clinical outcomes, diagnosis, treatment, immunobiology, and genetics of schistosomiasis japonica together with an overview of current progress in vaccine development, all of which will have an impact on future control efforts. The use of synchronous praziquantel (PZQ) chemotherapy for humans and domestic animals is only temporarily effective, as schistosome reinfection occurs rapidly. Drug delivery requires a substantial infrastructure to regularly cover all parts of an area of endemicity. This makes chemotherapy expensive and, as compliance is often low, a less than satisfactory control option. There is increasing disquiet about the possibility that PZQ-resistant schistosomes will develop. Consequently, as mathematical modeling predicts, vaccine strategies represent an essential component in the future control of schistosomiasis in China. With the inclusion of focal mollusciciding, improvements in sanitation, and health education into the control scenario, China's target of reducing the level of schistosome infection to less than 1% by 2015 may be achievable.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)442-466
    Number of pages25
    JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010


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