Schistosomiasis research in the Dongting lake region and its impact on local and national treatment and control in China

Donald P. McManus, Darren J. Gray, Allen G. Ross, Gail M. Williams, Hong Bin He, Yue Sheng Li

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    Schistosomiasis is a chronic and debilitating parasitic disease that has often been neglected because it is a disease of poverty, affecting poor rural communities in the developing world. This is not the case in the People's Republic of China (PRC), where the disease, caused by Schistosoma japonicum, has long captured the attention of the Chinese authorities who have, over the past 50-60 years, undertaken remarkably successful control programs that have substantially reduced the schistosomiasis disease burden. The Dongting Lake region in Hunan province is one of the major schistosome-endemic areas in the PRC due to its vast marshland habitats for the Oncomelania snail intermediate hosts of S. japonicum. Along with social, demographic, and other environmental factors, the recent completion and closure of the Three Gorges dam will most likely increase the range of these snail habitats, with the potential for re-emergence of schistosomiasis and increased transmission in Hunan and other schistosome-endemic provinces being a particular concern. In this paper, we review the history and the current status of schistosomiasis control in the Dongting Lake region. We explore the epidemiological factors contributing to S. japonicum transmission there, and summarise some of the key research findings from studies undertaken on schistosomiasis in Hunan province over the past 10 years. The impact of this research on current and future approaches for sustainable integrated control of schistosomiasis in this and other endemic areas in the PRC is emphasised.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere1053
    Number of pages9
    JournalPLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


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